Service Please: Canadians split over satisfaction when accessing federal government services

Service Please: Canadians split over satisfaction when accessing federal government services

Canadians more positive about their encounters accessing services from cities, provincial governments

June 10, 2022 – Canadians gearing up for summer travel have met with no small amount of frustration in recent months, as passport processing backlogs and airport delays have hampered would be travellers.

Against this backdrop, a new study from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds Canadians split over whether they’ve felt satisfied with the level of service received when accessing government services over the past six months. Just over half (55%) profess some level of satisfaction while just under half (45%) express the opposite.

The level of satisfaction dealing with the federal government is considerably lower compared to that of service accessed from provincial (68%) or municipal (72%) governments over the same period of time.

More Key Findings:

  • Ontario residents are much more satisfied in their dealings with the federal government (65%) than most other regions. The nadir for satisfaction is reported in both Alberta (43%) and Saskatchewan (43%).
  • Two-in-five have accessed services from their provincial government in the past six months, while one-in-three say this of a federal or municipal branch.
  • Manitoba residents voice the least satisfaction in their experiences with the provincial government (52%). Meantime, those in B.C. (72%), Ontario (72%), and Atlantic Canada (73%) are most satisfied.

About ARI

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 foundation 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.



  • How many are accessing services at each level of government?

  • Satisfaction with federal government lags behind municipal, provincial services

How many are accessing services at each level of government?

Overall, Canadians are more likely to not have needed services from their municipal, provincial or federal government in the last six months. Of the three, Canadians are more likely to report accessing provincial government services than other levels of government at two-in-five. For municipal and federal services, at least one-third of Canadians say they have required them over the last six months:

Satisfaction with federal government lags behind municipal, provincial services

The Angus Reid Institute then asked individuals who have had interactions with any of these three levels of government about that experience. The responses yield a considerable span of satisfaction levels depending upon with which government they have interacted. Levels of satisfaction are highest for municipal interactions, with seven-in-ten (72%) saying their experience left them satisfied or very satisfied. A similar number, two-thirds (68%) report this about provincial government services. For those who have endeavored to use federal government services, 55 per cent were satisfied and 45 per cent were dissatisfied:

Experiences with municipal government services are generally positive across the country. Development permits, public transit, waste and recycling, and business licensing are among the common services Canadians access from their communities.

At least two-thirds (68%) of those in every region canvassed say they were left satisfied with the experience with their local municipal government. This relative stability suggests that municipal governments in each region are generally perceived to be accommodating the needs of their populations more reliably than provincial and federal governments, as will be noted later in this report:

Satisfaction with provincial government services is more varied. Provincial governments across the country are tasked with providing things like licenses, vehicle registrations, and permits, as well as support programs for low-income households.

In Manitoba, just over half of residents who sought out services from their provincial government were left satisfied by the experience, while the other half (48%) say they were dissatisfied. The governments of British Columbia, Ontario, and Atlantic Canada fare much better, with at least seven-in-ten in each province respectively saying they had a satisfying experience accessing services:

Provincial levels of satisfaction are, however, notably consistent across a number of demographics including age, gender, education level, and past federal vote. Among lower-income individuals, higher frustration is evident. This demographic group is considerably more likely to be dissatisfied with the services they have accessed or tried to access over the past six months. Lower income individuals are more likely to need to access provincial income assistance or disability benefits, which vary by province.

Canadians are less enthused about their interactions with the federal government. Indeed, while 55 per cent say their experience has been satisfying during the past six months, nearly half (45%) lean the other way, and say they were dissatisfied. The notable exception for this regionally is Ontario. Here, two-thirds say they have had a positive experience, comfortably the highest number in the country. Respondents have perhaps not encountered recent hours-long delays at the country’s airports – for which airlines and the federal government have cast blame at each other, and elsewhere. Those in Alberta and Saskatchewan are most negative:

Heading into what’s expected to be a busy summer vacation season, before encountering long lines at the country’s airports, Canadians are faced with significant delays when they renew their passports. As COVID worries have faded, Canadians’ appetite for travel has intensified. Federal officials say they were caught off guard by the surge in demand for passports, which “outpaced forecasts and outstripped capacity.”

Canadians are also encountering delays navigating the country’s immigration system, including one 39-year-old permanent resident who has waited eight months to bring home her son who was born in India. There are more than two million immigration applications in the backlog, according to Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada, a list that has only grown longer as Canada has tried to fast track refugees fleeing Ukraine after Russia’s invasion in February.

Some Canadians were also shocked by a sudden request by Canada Revenue Agency for the return of Canada Emergency Response Program money sent out earlier in the pandemic. According to the CRA, the notice was sent out to individuals who were deemed ineligible for the benefits after a review, though many of those being asked to re-pay are still struggling financially.

Proximity may also play a role. Those with easier access to services in urban spaces are more positive about their experiences than those in more rural portions of the country:

Some of the satisfaction level Canadians profess with the federal government may also be politically driven. In addition to some of the regional differences, those who supported the Conservative Party in last fall’s election are notably far more negative about federal government services they have received over the past six months:

For detailed results by age, gender, region, education, and other demographics, click here.

To read the full report, including detailed tables and methodology, click here. 

To read the questionnaire in English and French, click here.

Image Credit – Wikimedia Commons NordiCanuck


Shachi Kurl, President: 604.908.1693 @shachikurl

Dave Korzinski, Research Director: 250.899.0821