2017 Lookahead: Canadians expect a mixed year at home, a bad one abroad

Manitoba and B.C. residents have the sunniest outlooks; Ontario and Newfoundland the gloomiest


January 3, 2017 – Canadians thought 2016 was a bad year for their country and the world, and they’re not especially hopeful that 2017 will be better.

This, according to a new public opinion poll from the Angus Reid Institute, which finds Canadians more likely to say they expect 2017 to be a bad year for Canada than a good one. Similarly, and perhaps relatedly, a majority of Canadians think the year ahead will be a bad one for their neighbours to the south.

Canadians feel more negatively than positively about the 2017 prospects of their provinces, their country, and the rest of the world, but among these dark outlooks – a glimmer of light: they’re more likely to expect a good year than a bad one when it comes to their own personal lives.

Key Findings: 20171

  • Overall, Canadians tend to be more positive about what they expect for 2017 than what they experienced in 2016, though those who think the year will be bad outnumber those who think it will be good on almost all counts
  • Residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, and Alberta are overwhelmingly pessimistic about the coming year in their provinces, while Manitobans and British Columbians are more likely to anticipate a good year than a bad one.
  • Canadians are twice as likely to say the new year will be good for them, personally (43%), than to say it will be bad (18%)

Canadians expect better from 2017 than they got in 2016, but only just

Will 2017 be a good year or a bad one for Canada? What about the United States? The world?

Obviously, there’s no way to know for certain what the future holds, but subtracting the percentage of Canadians who expect a good year from the percentage who expect a bad one yields a “momentum score,” which can be used to facilitate comparisons across questions and demographic groups.

Looking at those scores, we see that Canadians have a net negative outlook for 2017 on all but one measure, as seen in the graph that follows:

20172

Canadians expect 2017 to be a good year for them, personally

In 2016, Canadians gave the year a net neutral assessment (31% thought it was more good than bad, 31% thought it was more bad than good, and the rest thought it was equally good and bad).

This year, they feel considerably more upbeat. More than four-in-ten (43%) say they expect the new year to be more good than bad, and another 39 per cent expect good and bad in equal measure. Fewer than one-in-five (18%) anticipate a bad year:

20173

As was the case in their assessment of 2016, younger Canadians (those ages 18 – 34) tend to feel more positively about 2017 than other age groups. The difference between last year and this one? Momentum scores are positive for all age groups for 2017:

20174

Canadians across the country are more positive than negative about the next 12 months on a personal level, but some – specifically those in Newfoundland and Labrador and Alberta, where unemployment rose throughout 2016 – are less positive than others. As was the case with their assessment of 2016, Quebeckers are the most positive about their personal outlook for the year ahead.

20175

A banner year for Manitoba? A dismal one for Ontario?

Though Canadians expect 2017 to be good for them, personally, they’re skeptical that it will be a good year for their country or the provinces in which they themselves live.

A slightly greater number of Canadians think 2017 will be a bad year for Canada (33%) than a good one (28%), while the largest group say it will be “neutral” (39%). This yields a momentum score of -5. Collectively, the provinces fare even worse, recording a score of -17.

Of course, there is significant regional variation on this question, with Manitobans and British Columbians netting positive momentum scores, and Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, and Alberta netting the most negative ones:

20176

Much of the pessimism in these regions appears to be correlated to economics. Alberta and Newfoundland are still reeling from low global oil prices, and Ontario’s massive provincial debt – coupled with its deeply unpopular government – sets a tone of negativity in the region.

A bad year for the rest of the world?

The election of Donald Trump as U.S. President was one of the reasons 2016 earned a reputation in certain circles for being the “worst year ever”. Canadians reacted mostly negatively to Trump’s Electoral College Victory, a widespread view that may have contributed to their belief that 2016 was a bad year for their southern neighbours.

Will 2017 be as bad for America as Canadians believe 2016 was? Only time will tell. The potential effects of a Trump administration on the United States and the world order present a great deal of uncertainty as 2017 begins.

A complex international policy environment awaits the president-elect, and he has already waded into a number of these discussions. Trump has seemingly voiced support for a nuclear arms race (a drastic turn of policy since the end of the Cold War), broken traditional protocol in speaking to Taiwan post-election (reportedly angering Chinese officials) and expressed disdain for the Obama administration’s decision to abstain from a United Nations vote condemning Israeli settlements in disputed territories.

In domestic affairs, Trump’s promises of a border wall with Mexico, a ban on Muslims, the repeal of Obamacare, and the withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, among others, have left Americans and Canadians alike unsure which plans will concretize and which will be left on the campaign trail.

Regardless, six-in-ten Canadians (59%) anticipate that the year ahead will unfold with more bad than good in the United States, while just 16 per cent anticipate more good than bad.

20177

And questions persist beyond America’s borders. How will the European Union respond when the United Kingdom formally begins the process of leaving it? How much longer will the civil war in Syria last? And how many more will die there? How will the global economy react to all of this?

Canadians are similarly negative about the outlook for the world as a whole in 2017. More than half (52%) expect the next 12 months to be more bad than good, while just one-in-ten (11%) expect the year to be a net positive for the globe.

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The Angus Reid Institute (ARI) was founded in October 2014 by pollster and sociologist, Dr. Angus Reid. ARI is a national, not-for-profit, non-partisan public opinion research organization established to advance education by commissioning, conducting and disseminating to the public accessible and impartial statistical data, research and policy analysis on economics, political science, philanthropy, public administration, domestic and international affairs and other socio-economic issues of importance to Canada and its world.

Click here for the full report including tables, sample size and methodology

MEDIA CONTACT:

Dave Korzinski, Research Associate – 250.899.0821 dave.korzinski@angusreid.org

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