Leger Marketing

Leger Marketing

May 03, 2005 05:01 ET

Ontario Pre-Budget Poll: 51% say Fiscal Management is on Wrong Track

But 74% of Ontarians Partially Blame the Federal Government for Deficit because of $23 Billion Gap Attention: Assignment Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO, ON--(CCNMatthews - May 3, 2005) - On May 11, 2005, the Ontario Government of Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty will unveil a new provincial budget before a public where half (51%) believe the government's fiscal management is on the wrong track - with just a third (34%) believing it is on the right track. Despite these low marks, most Ontarians partially blame the Federal Government for the province's deficit, providing further indication that the McGuinty Government's "$23 Billion Gap" campaign continues to resonate strongly with voters. About three-quarters (74%) of Ontarians place partial blame on the Federal Government "because Ontario pays $23 Billion more per year in Federal taxes than it gets back in Federal services and transfer payments".

In a detailed priority-setting exercise involving 10 possible objectives for the upcoming budget, Health Care and Education clearly emerge as the public's primary and secondary budget priorities - with strong majorities saying the former (83%) and the latter (67%) should be a major focus. The public's concentrated emphasis on improving the province's health care system is also evident in the majority (55%) who support maintaining the Ontario Health Premium - a new tax introduced in last year's budget - in the interests of this goal.

However, the public's prioritization of Health Care and Education over Deficit Reduction in the priority-setting exercise does not cut the equivalent of a blank cheque for these two initiatives. Three-quarters (77%) of Ontarians think it is possible to improve both services and reduce the deficit simultaneously - 41% strongly. Thus, although the public demonstrates an understanding of some of the fiscal constraints facing the provincial government, they also appear willing to add some of their own.

More survey highlights:

Half (51%) say Government's Fiscal Management is on the Wrong Track
· When judging the McGuinty Government's management of Ontario's finances, 51% say the provincial Liberals are on the wrong track. Notably, a quarter (27%) say they are strongly on the wrong track.
· Conversely, only a third (34%) say the government is on the right track, and, just 6% feel strongly so.
· A significant minority (15%) did not express an opinion about the government's record of fiscal management.

Three-Quarters (74%) Partially Blame Federal Government for Ontario's Deficit
· Although the Provincial Government receives low marks on fiscal management, about three-quarters of Ontarians place partial blame for the budget deficit on the Federal Government. Further indication that the Provincial Government's "$23 Billion Gap" campaign is resonating with Ontarians, 74% agree with the following statement: "The Federal Government is partly to blame for Ontario's budget deficit because Ontario pays $23 Billion more per year in Federal taxes than it gets back in Federal services and transfer payments." Moreover, four-in-ten (44%) strongly agree.
· Conversely, only 18% disagree, and, just 7% strongly so.

A Majority (55%) Agree with Maintaining the Ontario Health Premium
· A year after its introduction, 55% of Ontarians support maintaining the Ontario Health Premium in the interests of improving the provincial health care system. A majority (55%) agree with the following statement: "The Provincial Government should continue to collect the Ontario Health Premium - a new tax that was introduced in last year's budget - because it is helping to improve health care in Ontario." Almost a quarter (23%) strongly agree.
· Conversely, 39% disagree, and more than a quarter (28%) strongly disagree.

Large Majorities Want Health Care & Education to be Major Budget Priorities
· Across 10 possible objectives for the upcoming budget, respondents were asked to indicate whether they felt each goal should be a major priority, moderate priority, minor priority, or not a priority at all in the upcoming budget. Ranking the 10 possible objectives according to their Major Priority rating among Ontarians reveals 4 key tiers of budget priorities.
· The top tier of budget priorities is solely comprised of Improving Health Care, as eight-in-ten (83%) Ontarians indicate that this should be a Major Priority in the next budget.
· The secondary tier of budget priorities also has a single objective: Improving Education - as almost seven-in-ten (69%) Ontarians provide a Major Priority rating to this goal.
· The tertiary tier of budget priorities is comprised of possible objectives that receive slight-to-small majorities: Protecting the Environment (57%), Helping the Poor, Homeless, and Disadvantaged (52%), and Reducing Crime (51%).
· The remainder of the tested objectives received a Majority Priority rating from a minority of Ontarians: Improving Infrastructure, such as Roads (46%), Encouraging New & Existing Businesses to Grow (46%), Reducing the Deficit (44%), Reducing Taxes (42%), and Increased Funding of Municipalities (34%).

Almost Half (46%) say Health Care should be the Top Budget Priority
· As a follow-up, respondents were asked to choose only one of the 10 possible objectives discussed as the Top Priority for the upcoming budget. Far outdistancing the 9 other possible objectives, almost half (46%) of Ontarians choose Improving Health Care as the Top Budget Priority. Just over one-in-ten (13%) say that Improving Education should be the Top Budget Priority. Less than one-in-ten Ontarians choose one of the remaining objectives as their Top Budget Priority: Reducing Taxes (9%), Reducing the Deficit (6%), Helping the Poor, Homeless, and Disadvantaged (6%), Protecting the Environment (4%), Encouraging New and Existing Businesses to Grow (3%), Reducing Crime (3%), Increasing the Funding of Municipalities (3%), and Improving Infrastructure, Such as Roads (2%).

77% Think it is Possible to Simultaneously Improve Health/Education & Reduce Deficit
· Although Improving Health Care and Improving Education receive far higher priority ratings than Reducing the Deficit, it is notable that 77% of Ontarians think it is also possible to improve these two service areas while simultaneously reducing the deficit. Three-quarters (77%) agree with the following statement: "I think it is possible to improve health care and education in Ontario, and reduce the provincial budget deficit at the same time." Notably, four-in-ten (41%) strongly agree.
· Conversely, only two-in-ten (21%) disagree, and just 8% strongly disagree. /For further information: Full, detailed release available on our website: www.legermarketing.com/ IN: POLITICS, SOCIAL

Contact Information

  • Craig Worden, Associate Vice President, Public Affairs, Leger Marketing
    Primary Phone: 416-815-0330 ext. 105
    E-mail: cworden@legermarketing.com