Premiers’ Performance: Facing re-election, Manitoba’s Stefanson’s approval trends upward, but remains low

Premiers’ Performance: Facing re-election, Manitoba’s Stefanson’s approval trends upward, but remains low

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe’s approval drops seven points; Tim Houston’s falls in Nova Scotia

September 13, 2023 – In the midst of a contentious provincial election, PC leader and Premier Heather Stefanson will put her half-term record to the test in Manitoba.

New data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds approval of Stefanson at the highest level it has been since she took office in 2021, but still at the bottom of the heap among provincial leaders. Three-in-ten (28%) Manitobans approve of Stefanson while twice as many (60%) are critical of her performance.

In neighbouring Saskatchewan, Premier Scott Moe sees the biggest fall in his approval rating, dropping seven points from June. The rising cost of living remains a pressing concern in the province where the NDP swiped two seats in recent byelections while arguing that taxes and the cost of utilities have risen under recent Saskatchewan Party governments.

Besides Moe, Ontario Premier Doug Ford sees the largest decline in personal approval as his government attempts to navigate out of the Greenbelt scandal. Ford’s approval sits at 28 per cent, the lowest of his five-year term. In Nova Scotia, approval of Premier Tim Houston also dips to its lowest level of his term, but he still enjoys positive assessments from half of those in the province.

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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.

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

B.C. Premier David Eby

British Columbia’s David Eby was the first of now several premiers to publicly call on the Bank of Canada to pause its interest rate hikes as Canadians search for answers to an ongoing affordability crisis. To the likely appreciation of those provincial leaders, the bank chose to hold rates last Wednesday. In addition to these financial challenges, Eby spent portions of the summer touring fire-ravaged communities including those in West Kelowna, Penticton, and the Shuswap region. Cooler temperatures and immense efforts from firefighters have brought increased calm to these regions. Half (48%) approve of the BCNDP leader.

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith

When Danielle Smith and the UCP won Alberta’s spring election, Smith used her victory speech to throw down the gauntlet towards Ottawa and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. In recent weeks, she’s continued to take aim at the Trudeau government over emissions caps and pending net-zero electricity regulations. Alberta vs. Ottawa is an old tune but remains perhaps a favourite among many Albertans. Half (47%) say they approve of Smith’s performance as premier, half (47%) don’t.

The uproar over a pause on solar and wind power development appears to have done little to Smith’s popularity in the province, which remains on the lower end of the national spectrum when it comes to concern over the environment and climate change.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe

Saskatchewan politics drew significant attention last month when Premier Scott Moe announced a policy requiring teachers to obtain parental consent if students wish to change their pronouns or name at school. Opponents say these laws only serve to put children that are not comfortable sharing their identity with parents at risk. However, this policy is supported more in Saskatchewan than elsewhere in the country – half in the province say parental consent should be required if a child wishes to change their gender identity in schools.

Related: Vast majority say schools should inform parents if children wish to change their pronouns, are split over issue of parental consent

It is perhaps economic issues which are having a larger drag on Moe’s performance. The inflation rate in Saskatchewan remained above the national average in recent data, while the Canadian Taxpayers Foundation called on the province’s government to cut gas taxes to help residents struggling with the rising cost of living. The NDP won two out of three byelections last month after blaming recent Saskatchewan Party governments for rising utility bills and taxes. The government countered that the NDP was using “selective numbers” and that Saskatchewan is the most affordable in the country for a family of four.

Moe’s approval drops seven points compared to June.

Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson

It’s election season in Manitoba and Premier Heather Stefanson will be using the campaign to better endear herself to would-be voters. Her approval has yet to surpass the three-in-ten mark during her time in office, but the good news it that her approval of 28 per cent this quarter is a personal best. Stefanson called the election on Sept. 5 and Manitobans will head to the polls on Oct. 3. The first week of campaigning saw Progressive Conservative candidates promising affordability assistance, while NDP leader Wab Kinew focused on beginning to “fix the health care staff shortage” at an event in West Winnipeg.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford

Ontario’s Doug Ford garnered perhaps more attention than he would have hoped this summer after the province’s attorney general released a report finding that land swap deals in the Greenbelt under Ford’s government were influenced by developers with personal connections to Ford. Since then, Ford’s minister of housing Steve Clark has resigned, and Ford has asked Attorney General Doug Downey to review the province’s legislation governing lobbyists, admitting that the process is broken.

Related: Greenbelt Grief: Ford’s personal approval drops to five-year low, but voters still prefer PCPO to opposition options

Ford’s approval drops to the lowest point in his term:

Quebec Premier François Legault

Back-to-school was more challenging in Quebec than in some areas of the country, as the province continues to struggle with a massive shortage of teachers. This has led the minister for education to call on those with degrees in relevant topics to try out teaching, regardless of their qualifications. Premier François Legault stated that he felt his government has done “more here than anywhere else in the world in any other governments before.” Still, he acknowledged the difficulty of filling all the teaching gaps in the short term, adding, “But what is impossible is impossible.”

Quebec and Ottawa also announced a significant investment to build a new Ford Motor Company plant in the province, which will produce batteries for electric vehicles. The $1.2-billion plant is expected to open in 2026. Legault’s relatively strong approval from Quebecers is statistically unchanged from last quarter at 47 per cent.

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs

Sailing has been less than smooth for New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs in recent months. The Progressive Conservative leader faced a revolt in his caucus, with a number of members asking for a leadership review to replace him. Party president Erika Hachey stated that there were an insufficient number of “valid” letters from members to trigger such a review.

Higgs has been on the hot seat since his government implemented Policy 713, which made changes to the provinces Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity policy. These include removing language that would allow a child to participate in sports using their chosen gender identity, and forcing teachers to acquire consent from parents if the child wishes to change their identity at school.

Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston

Halfway through his term as premier, Tim Houston has made fixing the province’s health-care system a top priority. There has been progress on some fronts – Houston touted new deals with doctors and nurses, a law that cuts red-tape for foreign-trained health-care workers in a recent column on the two-year anniversary of his election – but regress on others – twice as many Nova Scotians do not have a family doctor as did two years ago. Houston remains a relatively popular figure – half (50%) approve of Houston – but he has a long way to go to achieve his goal.

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey has chosen the pen as his weapon against the rising cost of living. In August, he wrote to Trudeau to ask for a pause on clean fuel regulations and to reverse the increases to the carbon tax. Furey said he was concerned about the “detrimental and disproportionate impact” of the regulations, especially in an environment of high inflation.

Furey was also one of three premiers to ask the Bank of Canada to stop raising interest rates in a letter to BoC governor Tiff Macklem as Furey worried over the impact further rate hikes would have on homeowners and renters. The BoC didn’t raise its policy rate this week, though that was expected by many economists prior to the appeals from Furey, Eby and Ford.

Furey has the approval of half (49%) of those in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Survey Methodology:

The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey from Aug. 31 – Sept. 8, 2023 among a representative randomized sample of 3,873 Canadian adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 1.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding. The survey was self-commissioned and paid for by ARI. 

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

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

Image – Heather Stefanson/Facebook


Shachi Kurl, President: 604.908.1693 @shachikurl

Dave Korzinski, Research Director: 250.899.0821

Jon Roe, Research Associate: 825.437.1147

Summary tables to follow


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