Ipsos Reid

Ipsos Reid

May 18, 2006 10:22 ET

Many Canadians Expect They Will Be Running On Empty As Gas Prices...

Seven In Ten Canadians (72%) Support Direct Government Regulation Of Gasoline Prices - Support Up 28% From 1997 (44%) Attention: News Editor TORONTO/ONTARIO/MEDIA ADVISORY--(CCNMatthews - May 18, 2006) - Many Canadians expect that rising gasoline prices will hit them and their finances hard and most want the government to start regulating gas prices. These are the findings in the first in a series of Canada Speaks online public opinion polls conducted by Ipsos Reid and presented by Sympatico / MSN.

Half of Canadians (48%) expect that over the next six months increases in the price of gasoline will cause financial hardship for their family - only 28% do not think so.

Further, as many expect to take a hard-hit to the wallet as a result of rising gas prices, a majority (71%) feel "gas prices are unfair because the oil industry sets them as high as they can get away with, regardless of market forces" (down slightly from the 76% who felt this way in October of 1997).

Sixty-seven percent of Canadians feel that "Canada's government could act to limit increases in the price of gasoline".

In fact, there is strong support from the Canadian public for government regulation of gas prices: Seven in ten Canadians (72%) support "direct government regulation of gasoline prices to protect consumers from unfair pricing" - up 28% from October 1997, when 44% indicated support for regulation of gas prices. Another seven in ten (71%) agree that "the government should bring in a special tax on the windfall profits that are now being made by companies selling gasoline in Canada" (29% disagree).

And when it comes to "the Harper government's plan to cut the GST by 1%", 71% say they don't "think this is an appropriate response to rising gas prices".

These are the findings of an Ipsos Reid poll fielded from April 27th to May 2nd, 2006. For the survey, a representative sample of 1072 adult Canadians were interviewed via an on-line survey vehicle. The sample used in this study has been weighted according to Census data to accurately reflect the population of Canadians. With a sample of this size, the aggregate results are considered accurate to within ±3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had this entire population been polled. The margin of error will be larger within each sub-grouping of the survey population.

With Canada Speaks, Sympatico / MSN is listening to its readers' opinions in order to continue providing them with the information they care most about. Canada's most popular online destination with more than 17.5 million visitors per month*, Sympatico.MSN.ca is the one online destination that provides the tools and information Canadian's need to connect with friends, family, and what's happening - in their community and around the world.

Half Of Canadians (48%) Expect Increases In Gas Prices Will Cause Financial Hardship For Their Family…

Half of Canadians (48%) expect that over the next six months increases in the price of gasoline will cause financial hardship for them or their family, while 28% do not. One-quarter (24%) are "not sure" how these increases will affect them.

* Atlantic Canadians (63%) are the most likely to believe gasoline price increases will cause them financial hardship, while those in Quebec are the least likely to feel this way (39%).
* Those with lower levels of household income are the most likely to feel these increases will create hardship for them (64% among those with less than $30,000 annually vs. 50% among those with $30,000 to less than $60,000 and 38% among those with more than $60,000).

Majority (71%, Down Slightly From 76% In 1997) Feel Oil Companies Price Gas Unfairly…

A majority of Canadians (71%) are of the opinion that "gas prices are unfair because the oil industry sets them as high as they can get away with, regardless of real market forces" - down slightly from 76% who felt this way in October 1997. Three in ten (29%) believe "the prices that oil companies charge for gasoline are fair because they reflect the real market forces such as supply and demand and the cost of oil".

* Eighty-two percent of the residents of Quebec feel gas prices are unfair, the highest in the country, followed by those in Ontario (70%) and Atlantic Canada (68%).
* Those in Saskatchewan/Manitoba (43%) and Alberta (40%) are the most likely to feel that gas prices are set "fairly".
* Younger adults age 18-34 (75%) are the most likely to think the pricing is "unfair" while those age 55 and over (40%) are the most likely to feel it is "fair".

Seven In Ten Canadians (72%) Support Direct Government Regulation Of Gasoline Prices - Up 28% From 1997…

Seven in ten Canadians (72%) support direct government regulation of gasoline prices to protect consumer from unfair pricing" -- this is up sharply (+28%) from October 1997 when just 44% indicated support for regulation. Twenty-eight percent oppose government regulation of gas prices and feel it should be left up to the marketplace to determine - down from 52%.

* Support for government price regulation is highest in Atlantic Canada (87%) and Quebec (81%).
* Opposition to regulation is strongest among residents of Alberta (39%), British Columbia (34%), and Saskatchewan/Manitoba (32%).
* Those with higher household incomes of $60,000 or more are the most likely to oppose regulation (33%).

Two-thirds (67%) Feel Canada's Government Is Not Helpless When It Comes To Gasoline Prices And Could Act To Limit Increases …

Sixty-seven percent of Canadians feel that "Canada's government could act to limit increases in the price of gasoline", 18% feel "Canada's government is really helpless when it comes to increases in the price of gasoline", and a further 15% are "not sure".

* Three quarters of those in Quebec (75%) and Atlantic Canada (75%) believe the government could act to reduce gas prices -the highest proportion in Canada, followed by those in Saskatchewan/Manitoba (69%).

And Seven In Ten (71%) Agree The Government Should Bring In A Special Tax On The Windfall Profits Now Being Made By Petrol-Companies…

Seven in ten Canadians (71%) agree that "the government should bring in a special tax on the windfall profits that are now being made by companies selling gasoline in Canada" - while 29% disagree with this idea.

* Agreement that the government should introduce this type of special tax is highest in Atlantic Canada (79%), followed by Quebec (76%) and Ontario (72%).
* Disagreement is highest in Alberta (37%) and British Columbia (35%).

Only Three In Ten (29%) Agree That Harper Government's Plan To Cut GST By 1% Is An Appropriate Response…

Three in ten (29%) agree that "the Harper government's plan to cut the GST by 1% is an appropriate response to increase in gas prices. Cutting taxes by more would irresponsible." Seven in ten (71%) disagree with this notion.

* Agreement is highest among those in Saskatchewan/Manitoba (38%).
* Disagreement is highest among those in Atlantic Canada (75%), and British Columbia and Ontario (both at 73%).

About Sympatico / MSN
Sympatico.MSN.ca is Canada's most popular online destination with 17.5 million unique visitors* experiencing its entertainment, information and communication services a month. The portal brings together Bell Sympatico's Web content and broadband services with MSN's popular Hotmail, Messenger and Search services. Bell Sympatico is Canada's leading ISP, while MSN Messenger is used by more Canadians than any other instant messaging and MSN Hotmail is the leading web-based email service. Sympatico.MSN.ca also delivers exclusive content to Sympatico High Speed Internet service subscribers, as well as value-added services such as MSN Premium.

About Microsoft Canada
Established in 1985, Microsoft Canada Co. is the Canadian subsidiary of Microsoft Corporation (Nasdaq "MSFT") the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential. Microsoft Canada provides nationwide sales, marketing, consulting and local support services in both French and English. Headquartered in Mississauga, Microsoft Canada has 10 regional offices across the country dedicated to empowering people through great software - any time, any place and on any device. For more information on Microsoft Canada, please visit www.microsoft.ca.

*March 2006, All locations, ComScore Media Metrix Canada

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For more information or to schedule a media interview, please contact:

John Wright
Ipsos Reid Public Affairs
(416) 324-2900

Or

Heather Anderson
High Road Communications
(416) 644-2272
handerson@highroad.com

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