Canadians Want Budget to Help the Jobless, Ease Pain at the Pump

Many Canadian adults think the federal government is right to reduce spending, but more than two thirds are calling for measures that would help the unemployed and reduce the price of gas across the country, a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll conducted in partnership with the Toronto Star has found.

In the online survey of a representative national sample of 1,007 Canadian adults, half of respondents (51%) expect the budget that will be tabled by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty this week to focus primarily on spending cuts and fiscal restraint.

Three-in-five Canadians (61%) believe the federal government should try to balance the budget, even if it means reduced spending on services, while 21 per cent would opt to increase spending, even if it means continued budget deficits.

About two thirds of Canadians support two concepts that have been discussed by the federal government recently: achieving the goal of eliminating the federal budget deficit by the 2015-16 fiscal year (68%) and eliminating positions in the federal public service (64%).

However, most Canadians are also calling for an expansion to government programs in order to reduce unemployment across the country (74%) and temporarily reducing the sales taxes on gasoline to lower the price at the pump (72%). More than half of respondents (58%) believe tying corporate income tax breaks for companies to increases in their workforce is a good idea.

There are three areas where Canadians seem unwilling to accept modifications. Only 26 per cent think it would be a good idea to increase the eligibility age for Old Age Security (OAS) from 65 to 67 years, and 20 per cent would reduce the amount of money that the federal government transfers to the provinces. Only 13 per cent of Canadians think it is a good idea to lower corporate taxes and raise payroll taxes, such as the Employment Insurance (EI) premiums paid by employees and employers.

Across Canada, one-in-five respondents (19%) expect the budget to have a positive impact on the country, and only five per cent expect it to have a positive impact on themselves personally. Quebecers (40%) are more likely to think that the budget will be negative for Canada, while British Columbians are more likely to believe that they will be worse off personally (47%).

Full Report, Detailed Tables and Methodology (PDF)

Methodology: From March 22 to March 23, 2012, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey among 1,007 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panellists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Canada. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

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