by David Korzinski | September 21, 2022 9:00 pm
September 22, 2022 – As summer bids adieu to Canadians, so too do a couple of premiers, preparing to hand over the reins of provincial leadership. This, while another leader seeks to secure a second term in the weeks to come. While the political winds of change may be blowing more softly in other parts of the country, inflation and health care challenges continue to press leaders and their constituents.
In Quebec, the provincial election is well underway, with Coalition Avenir Québec and party leader François Legault seeking a second majority after winning control of the legislature in 2018. Legault appears to be in the driver’s seat ahead of the Oct. 3 election but has seen a diminution in his personal appeal this year. Slightly more than two-in-five (43%) Quebec residents approve of his performance, statistically tied with the lowest number recorded during his four years as premier. Legault has challenges if his party is, indeed, returned to power. Tense dealings with the federal government, as well as debates over the future of health care and privatization will ensure that Legault has his hands full in the coming months.
A full report on the Quebec election will be released in the coming days.
Related: Half of Canadians say health-care system would suffer with an infusion of private care
In western Canada, two provincial leaders prepare to hand over the keys to the governing party with widely differing public opinion profiles.
Outgoing B.C. Premier John Horgan, who delivered a final speech to the province’s municipal leaders last week, will retire after more than five years in the position. Horgan has endured recent health challenges after being diagnosed with throat cancer in 2021. After a series of radiation treatments, he resumed his duties but ultimately decided to step down and cited waning energy as a contributing factor. Horgan has maintained high levels of approval for the bulk of his time as premier and returns there in his final quarter, receiving commendation from 51 per cent of British Columbians. His approval dipped below the majority mark in June after a controversial and ultimately repealed plan was announced to spend nearly $800 million to tear down and rebuild the Royal B.C. Museum. Horgan spent his time as premier with approval north of 50 per cent more often than not.
In Alberta, views of the outgoing premier are less convivial. United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney is approved of by three-in-ten Albertans as his party prepares to announce the results of its leadership race on Oct. 6. Kenney and other UCP candidates continue to feud with Alberta Health Services about pandemic management and the future of the health authority. COVID-19 handling may ultimately go down as a low point for Kenney, whose approval dropped precipitously throughout 2020 and 2021 and never recovered to pre-pandemic levels. More recently, his government received criticism on every issue canvassed in an Angus Reid Institute survey earlier this year.
Premier Scott Moe announced last month that adults in Saskatchewan would be receiving a $500 cheque after the province delivered a surplus budget. High resource prices, including oil and potash, increased by supply issues and the Russia-Ukraine conflicted, have boosted the economy as residents struggle with inflation in their day to day lives. Moe is approved of 57 per cent of his constituents, the highest level of approval among provincial constituents this quarter.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford has been exposed to no shortage of speculation about the province’s interest in expanding private health care. This was however quickly eclipsed in the headlines after an announcement that the province had passed a bill that would force senior hospital patients awaiting space in a long-term care home to another home that they had not chosen. Patients who refuse would be fined $400 a day to continue occupying their hospital bed. Ford’s government is also facing negotiations with five major education unions after their contracts expired in August. Ford’s approval drops four points to 41 per cent as the legislature prepares to reconvene in early October.
Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in early September to discuss key areas of cooperation, as well as contentious policy disagreements. Stefanson has criticized the federal carbon tax, asking the government to temporarily suspend it amid inflation concerns. Stefanson’s government recently announced an $87-million package to aid families and seniors with benefit cheques and increases in government assistance in the coming weeks. Whether that aid package will prove politically beneficial remains to be seen. For now, Stefanson continues to be the least approved-of leader in the country. One-in-five (22%) Manitoba residents say they approve of her performance.
Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston visited Newfoundland and Labrador this month to show support for the signing of a Joint Declaration of Intent to form a Canada-Germany “hydrogen alliance”. As Germany seeks to diversify its energy supply, Canada’s east coast has drawn attention as a potential hub. Trudeau and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz signed the agreement in Stephenville, N.L. in late August.
Houston returned home with a message of hope for what future developments in the industry could bring Nova Scotians. More immediately, however, his government faces questions about its consideration of an expansion of private health care to clear up system backlogs. Houston maintains majority approval but has seen a 20-point drop in that measure since March.
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey showed great enthusiasm after the signing of the Canada-Germany hydrogen alliance, adding that “Newfoundland and Labrador is well-positioned to produce green hydrogen” because of its considerable renewable energy capacity. Economic challenges persist in the province as unemployment continues to worsen and health care delays continue to pile up. Furey is approved of by 45 per cent of residents.
In New Brunswick, Premier Blaine Higgs added his voice to a chorus of other provincial leaders who have recently expressed support for increasing some form of privatization in health care. Higgs, Ford, Houston, Kenney and Legault have all spoken about the need to explore private solutions in recent weeks, something one-in-three Canadians (32%) recently said would help improve care in Canada. That said, half (50%) disagreed that this is a path worth exploring. Higgs has the approval of one-third (32%) of residents in that province, a measure that has remained consistent since December last year.
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.
The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey from Sept. 19 – 21, 2022 among a representative randomized sample of 3,941 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.
To read the full report, including detailed tables and methodology, click here.
Image – Martin Lopatka / Flickr
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