Economy and Health Care are Dominant Issues for Ontarians

by Angus Reid | September 1, 2011 9:00 am

Ontarians are evenly split on whether the incumbent head of government or the main opposition challenger would be the best person to serve as premier, a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll conducted in partnership with the Toronto Star has found.

In the online survey of a representative sample of 1,002 Ontario adults, 21 per cent of respondents say Liberal leader and current premier Dalton McGuinty would make the best head of government, while 21 per cent select Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak.

New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Andrea Horwath is a distant third with 12 per cent. Almost half of respondents (45%) are not ready to select any of the four major party leaders for the top job at Queen’s Park.

About a third of respondents approve of both Hudak (35%) and McGuinty (33%). Horwath has the highest approval rating at 39 per cent, while 16 per cent of respondents have a positive impression of Green Party leader Mike Schreiner.

Horwath and Schreiner managed to post positive momentum scores (+8 and +1 respectively), while McGuinty and Hudak hold negative numbers (-28 and -13). In fact, 37 per cent of respondents say their opinion of McGuinty has worsened over the past three months.

The incumbent premier is seen as the best suited leader to deal with education (24%) and health care (21%), while the official opposition leader holds the upper hand on crime (30%), federal provincial relations (28%), the economy (27%), and managing the deficit (27%). McGuinty and Hudak are tied on job creation, and Schreiner and Horwath are seen as the most capable leaders to deal with the environment.

More than half of respondents (56%) believe it is time for change in Ontario and a different provincial party should be elected into power, while one quarter (24%) would like to see the Liberal Party re-elected.

The most important issue for Ontarians is the economy (27%), followed by heath care (20%), government spending (12%), unemployment (12%) and tax relief (8%). While men are more likely to mention the economy than heath care (29% to 15%), women are evenly split among the two issues (25% and 25%).


McGuinty seems to be connecting well in the 416 area, as outlined by his large lead in the Best Premier question, but many respondents across the province are warming up to Hudak. It is important to note that Horwath has the best approval rating of all four main leaders, but—aside from a good showing in the Hamilton/Niagara area and Northern Ontario—she is not making progress on the best premier question.

A gender gap is developing when Ontarians ponder pressing issues, with men clearly favouring the economy over health care, and women saying that health care is slightly more important to them than the economy. Men are also more likely to cite managing the deficit as an important factor, while women are not as certain on this particular topic.

Liberal Party voters are evenly focused on the economy and health care, while NDP voters are more preoccupied with health care. For Progressive Conservative voters, the economy takes precedence over all other issues.

Full Report, Detailed Tables and Methodology (PDF)[1]

Methodology: From August 25 to August 28, 2011, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey among 1,002 randomly selected Ontario 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 Ontario. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

  1. Full Report, Detailed Tables and Methodology (PDF): /wp-content/uploads/2011/08/2011.09.01_Ontario_Leaders.pdf

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