On promoting economic growth and innovation, Canadians say government, not business, should be responsible

A majority of Canadians say government, rather than the business community, should be primarily responsible for promoting economic growth and innovation in this country.

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That is the finding of an Angus Reid Institute (ARI) online survey of Canadian and American adults on the subject.

In both Canada and the United States, the top two issues that respondents thought the government should be primarily responsible for were the same: building stronger trade ties with other countries and encouraging innovation in health care and health sciences.

However, Canadians say the federal government should be responsible for building stronger trade ties nearly two-to-one over Americans (65% vs. 34%, respectively). Further, they say government should be responsible for encouraging innovation in health care and health sciences three-to-one over Americans (61% vs. 21%, respectively).

This finding is notable when examining both Canadian and American responses to their opinions on size of government. Although 55 per cent of Canadians say efforts should be made to reduce the size of the federal government and its programs, the majority also want the government to take responsibility for promoting growth in several areas.

By contrast, 63 per cent of Americans say the size of government should be reduced. This finding is in line with the American sentiment favouring business responsibility for growth and innovation.

It should be noted that both Canadian and American respondents frequently say that primary responsibility should be “both government and business equally.” This response is significantly more likely to be chosen by Americans over Canadians with respect to job growth (for full details please see the tables at the end of this release).

Canadian results

There are regional differences in the extent to which respondents say government should be held responsible for growth on several metrics.

Generally, British Columbia respondents are less likely to say that government should be involved in promoting growth and innovation in all areas when compared to the national average, followed by Albertans. By contrast, on the majority of issues, Quebecers are the most likely to say the government should be involved, when compared to the national average.

The area in which Canadians say government should be least responsible is building Canada’s technology sector (27%). This is also the area most likely to be selected for business being primarily responsible (25%).

American results

With respect to the American view, findings are, overall, in line with the so-called “American dream” mentality of limited government and free enterprise.

Nearly half of American respondents (48%) say business should be primarily responsible for “building America’s technology sector” and for “training young people for jobs in sectors where the greatest vacancies are.”

One-third (31%) of Americans say business should be primarily responsible for “encouraging innovation in health care and health sciences”, “encouraging job growth” and “growing the economy”. There are no noteworthy regional differences for these issues.

The issue more Americans think the government should be primarily responsible for is “building stronger trade ties.” However, this sentiment is shared by 34 per cent, compared to 65 per cent of Canadians.

As with Canadians, a high percentage of Americans say that “both government and business equally” should be responsible for promoting growth and innovation.

Image Credit: re:publica

Click here for full report including tables and methodology

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