Premiers’ Performance: Wynne’s approval rating sinks to 12 per cent – an all-time low

Couillard the only Premier to see an increase in approval across Canada

March 24, 2017 – Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s slide towards single digit job approval continues. After another four-point drop in quarterly job performance approval analysis by the Angus Reid Institute, the provincial Liberal leader now holds the endorsement of just 12 per cent of people in her province.

An additional analysis by ARI, published today, sheds light upon some of the frustrations Ontarians are voicing regarding the provincial government’s decision to sell shares in Hydro One to private investors.

Indeed, more than eight-in-ten Ontarians oppose the deal, and three-quarters say they will be keeping electricity-related issues front of mind in the coming provincial election. This, and the impending September trials of Ontario Liberal members in Sudbury and Toronto, are among the issues that are likely to set a difficult path ahead for the embattled Wynne.

Related: Politics Electrified: Three-in-four Ontarians say their hydro bills are ‘unreasonable’; think they’ll rise further

Though the trendline charting Wynne’s four-point decline in job approval to just 12 per cent is the most stark among provincial premiers, she is far from the only provincial leader to experience a decline this quarter. Indeed, most share the same consequence.


Experiencing the largest quarterly decline when it comes to the job he’s doing is Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall. While he remains unchallenged as Canada’s most popular provincial leader, Wall’s grip on majority backing softens further, down six points to 52 per cent. This represents the lowest approval rating in seven years of available tracking. Wall’s Saskatchewan Party government is facing an increasing projected deficit – one that has grown from an initial estimate of around $400 million last June a projected $1.3 billion for fiscal year 2016/17. A PST increase from 5 to 6 per cent took effect on March 23, and potential cuts in the public-sector loom.

In Manitoba, Premier Brian Pallister drops five points in a three-month period that brought its share of political turmoil. Pallister defended his decision to spend six-to-eight weeks in Costa Rica each year, publicly apologized for referring to the debate over Indigenous people’s night hunting as a “race war” and introduced a number of bills to, among other things, curb public sector wages, reduce health care bargaining units, and potentially increase tuition fees. That said, he still carries the approval of nearly half (45%) in his province.

As the May 9 Election Day approaches in British Columbia, Christy Clark sees her positive momentum from the previous two quarters come to a halt. The Premier’s approval had increased eight points between May and December of last year, but drops four points this quarter to 31 per cent. Among the issues likely driving this decline: new data from the Angus Reid Institute revealing three-quarters of B.C. residents say B.C. Liberal Party “is only interested in helping its political donors and big business”. This is further explored in a BC politics scan, published today as well.

However, it is worth noting that though this lower approval rating may create some concern among the ranks of her party, Clark’s lowest-ever reported approval rating was 25 per cent – two months before she led the B.C. Liberals to a come-from-behind majority victory in the 2013 election. It will be worth monitoring whether Clark can manage a repeat in surging approval similar to her 20-point post-election bump that year.

Related: B.C. Election: Liberal economic message resonates; concerns over campaign finance and housing persist

Stephen McNeil, Premier of Nova Scotia, dropped another four points this quarter to 27 per cent. This represents an overall 19-point decline since the end of 2015. Facing growing deficits, McNeil’s government passed Bill 148, the Public Services Sustainability Act. While seen as a step toward curbing spending, subsequent austerity measures along with a public dispute with the teacher’s union go some length in explaining the souring of Nova Scotians on their once-popular premier.

New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant’s approval is also 27 per cent, down two points from December of last year, Gallant faces decisions over what type of voting process he will face in 2018. After an independent commission on electoral reform recommended changing to a preferential ballot system for the next election, the Liberal leader suggested he would like to garner a clear mandate from the public. He has yet to specify whether this would be through a referendum or otherwise.

Two Canadian Premiers on opposite sides of the country share unchanged status in terms of their job performance rating. Alberta’s Rachel Notley has the approval of just under one-in-three Albertans (31%) as new Progressive Conservative leader Jason Kenney begins the work of uniting conservative opposition to her. In Newfoundland and Labrador, the prospects for Dwight Ball are worse. Just one-in-five (20%) approve of the job he is doing as premier.

The one provincial leader in Canada whose job approval has increased? Quebec’s Philippe Couillard. In the wake of a multiple shooting at an Islamic Cultural Centre in the Sainte Foy neighbourhood of Quebec City that left six dead, Couillard was left to console Quebecers. Support for the Premier rose 5 points this quarter, to 35 per cent.










*Because its small population precludes drawing discrete samples over multiple waves, data on Prince Edward Island is not released.


Click here for the full report including tables and methodology


Shachi Kurl, Executive Director: 604.908.1693

Ian Holliday, Research Associate

Dave Korzinski, Research Associate

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