Provincial Performance: B.C. & Ontario governments face immense, growing criticism over handling of key issues

Provincial Performance: B.C. & Ontario governments face immense, growing criticism over handling of key issues

Despite low performance ratings, both B.C. NDP and Ontario PCs lead comfortably in vote

June 29, 2023 – While government dissatisfaction has become a familiar trend in Ontario in recent years, the ranks of those disenchanted with the performance of their respective provincial governments are growing: enter British Columbia.

New data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds provincial governments’ scores on ARI’s Government Performance Index (GPI) facing considerable attrition. The GPI score represents the average number of residents saying their own provincial government is doing a good or very good job across 13 different issues, from health care to inflation. The Ontario provincial government under Premier Doug Ford scores the lowest in the country (21), tied with Manitoba under Premier Heather Stefanson. This represents a four-point drop for Ford’s government, which was already poorly appraised.

Related: Poor ratings on cost of living and health care have Manitoba PCs trailing NDP by five-points

On the west coast, the government of David Eby faces increasing negativity as well. The British Columbia GPI now sits at 27, down five points since March. This, as his government (like many others in the country) faces criticism over its handling of top provincial issues. One-in-six (15%) say the government is handling the cost-of-living file well, while just 11 per cent say this of housing affordability.

Satisfaction with provincial government performance across the country has diminished greatly over the past three years. The overall average now sits at 30, a decline from the 46 seen in June 2020. This downward trend has been largely driven by overwhelming dissatisfaction over how provinces have been performing and responding to two key files: health care and the cost of living. Nowhere in the country do more than 38 per cent of residents say their province is handling health care or the cost-of-living crisis well (Alberta leads both categories at 38 per cent).

Overall, the most satisfaction is found in Saskatchewan. This is driven by majority praise in handling the economy (60%), energy policy (61%), and the deficit (56%). Despite this, concerns linger among Saskatchewanians over health care and the cost of living, wherein fewer than two-in-five offer the government kudos.

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.

Government Performance Index

These quarterly national data take a dive into the top issues in the country at the provincial level and the corresponding satisfaction levels of Canadians through the Angus Reid Institute’s Government Performance Index. This Index is calculated in each province by taking the average number of those saying the government has done a good or great job across the issues of inflation, health care, housing affordability, climate change, public safety, the economy, education, poverty, government spending, energy policy, the opioid crisis, Indigenous concerns and the province’s relationship with the federal government. In Quebec, the government is also evaluated on residents’ assessments of how it is protecting the English and French languages.

While none of the scores this quarter reach the majority mark, Saskatchewan and Alberta have the distinction as the only two provincial governments meeting or surpassing 40 on the GPI.

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

These low scores are emblematic of a shift in Canadian perspectives that began with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. While initially Canadians rallied around their provincial leaders in the early days of the pandemic, scores dropped precipitously as a Canadian average through 2021 and 2022 and have yet to recover. This, largely due significant challenges in both health care service and keeping up with the cost of living.

Top provincial issues

Provincial governments from coast to coast continue to search for answers to persistent and challenging questions around the cost of living and health care. These two issues dominate the priorities of every region in the country – chosen as the top two provincial priorities in every province canvassed.

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

British Columbia

The B.C. NDP government continues to face heavy criticism from residents on a number of fronts. Growing dissatisfaction with performance on the top three issues as chosen by British Columbians appears to be driving this increased criticism. Fewer than one-quarter are happy with Premier David Eby’s government in its handling of the cost of living, health care, and housing affordability. Staffing crises in health care remain and the B.C. NDP continues to search for answers to increase the province’s housing stock to increase affordability:

While these individual measures are dramatic, perhaps even more so is the B.C. NDP’s overall GPI score, which now ranks as the lowest recorded in a decade at 27.

Despite these criticisms and the decade-low opinion of government performance, the B.C. NDP is facing little backlash in terms of voter intention. Asked how they would vote currently if an election were held, half of B.C. residents (47%) would support the incumbent party, an 18-point advantage over the opposition B.C. United.

A new name and leader have yet to resonate with British Columbians. B.C. United leader Kevin Falcon is viewed favourably by 20 per cent and unfavourably by half (48%) with three-in-ten still unsure of him (31%, see detailed tables for views of opposition leaders in each province).

Note, these data were collected prior to the provincial byelections in Langford-Juan de Fuca and Vancouver-Mount Pleasant. Both ridings are considered NDP strongholds; still, the results do not reflect well on the early tenure of Falcon. In Langford, B.C. United finished fourth, behind the B.C. Conservatives, with less than nine per cent of the vote. In Mount Pleasant, the B.C United candidate received less than 14 per cent of the vote. Falcon pointed to the name change as a factor in the party’s poor byelection showing, but noted that B.C. United has a lot of work to do ahead of a provincewide election in 2024.


Premier Danielle Smith’s UCP begins its second term in office with a different leader than the first, but in a relatively favourable position compared to other governing provincial parties at the moment. Smith’s honeymoon is, however, certainly much less enviable than her predecessor Jason Kenney, who began his term with 61 per cent approval. Her own personal rating is 45 per cent this quarter.

Nonetheless, the key issues of health care and inflation will challenge the new government in the coming months if it hopes to retain some of the good will offered by Albertans. Two-in-five (38%) say the government is handling the cost-of-living crisis and health care challenges well. This relatively meagre mark is the best in the country on both issues. Further, strong economic indicators have a majority of residents offering praise on that front:

What this means from 10,000 feet is that while most provincial governments are enduring worse appraisal from their constituents, the newly elected UCP has sustained, even slightly improved, its own position this quarter:


Aside from the top two issues defining the country, residents in Saskatchewan prioritize the economy and the deficit at the highest levels among all provinces canvassed (see detailed tables).

Three-in-five in Saskatchewan say the government is doing a good job of handling the economy. Recent projections suggest the province should rate second in the nation in GDP growth for 2023. That said, a majority continue to rate the government poorly on the inflation and health care files:

Saskatchewan ranks as the most commended province in the country this quarter, ahead of Alberta by three points on the GPI. The Saskatchewan Party has endured a three-point drop compared to March of this year and remains well below pre-COVID levels of constituent satisfaction:


In an election year, the PC government of Premier Heather Stefanson faces much criticism from constituents on the key issues of health care, inflation and public safety. In each case, at least four-in-five residents believe the government is performing poorly:

The performance of Manitoba has lagged the national average consistently, dating back to Stefanson’s predecessor Brian Pallister. For a detailed report on Manitoba, please click here.


Ontarians join British Columbians in choosing housing affordability as a top issue at the highest levels in Canada – in each province two-in-five say this. A June report found that rent in Toronto had risen 15 per cent compared to 2022 levels, while home prices remain among the highest in the country. New mayor-elect Olivia Chow will have her chance to affect change after winning the Toronto election on June 26, but will likely not have the most amicable partner in Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives. Ford claimed a Chow mayorship would be an “unmitigated disaster” during the campaign, though said he would look for “common ground” after the results came in.

On each of the three top issues, fewer than one-in-five Ontarians say the provincial government is performing well. Conversely, criticism on each is overwhelming.

Alongside Manitoba, the government of Ontario rates most poorly in the nation on the overall GPI, with a score of just 21. This score is the lowest recorded for any government in Canada in nearly a decade of tracking.

As has been the case for several years now, the division between the centre-left vote finds the Progressive Conservatives with a comfortable lead in provincial vote intent. Currently, 36 per cent of Ontario residents say they would support the PCPO incumbents if an election were held, while approximately one-quarter would vote for the NDP (27%) and Liberal Party (25%):


Premier François Legault endured some attrition this quarter with respect to his own personal approval, and his government, though recently re-elected, faces criticism on each of the three most important issues to Quebecers. On each, at least 64 per cent say the government is doing a poor job currently:

The governing Coalition Avenir Québec party, which has outpaced the Canadian average in terms of GPI scoring since 2018, sees its score drop to 33 this quarter, down six points in three months and eight points since last December.

Voters gave the CAQ a majority victory in October of last year, putting little pressure on the Legault government in the near future from a political perspective. That said, the party has experienced a diffusion of support to other contenders. One-third of Quebec voters would vote for the CAQ, while just 13 per cent would support the opposition Liberals (who received 14% support last year). The biggest beneficiary of a voter support bump appears to be the Parti Québécois, who are now the choice of one-in-five (22%):

New Brunswick

There has been much upheaval in Canada’s only bilingual province in recent months. Two cabinet ministers have resigned from Premier Blaine Higgs’ government as it continues to forge ahead with a revision of a policy protecting LGBTQ students in provincial schools. Two more were dropped in a recent cabinet shuffle. Four former Progressive Conservative party presidents have called on Higgs to resign as five PC MLAs have sided with opposition parties in the legislature calling for more consultations on the policy. A majority of PC party riding presidents have also called for a leadership review.

Meanwhile, constituents are deeply unhappy with the PC government’s performance on the top issues of the day. Most believe the New Brunswick government has performed poorly on health care, cost of living and housing affordability. In all three cases, at least half believe the province has done a “very poor job”:

Higgs was first elected with a minority mandate in 2018, winning re-election and increasing his party’s seat count to a majority level in 2020. Since the fall of 2021, criticism of Higgs and his government has increased significantly as it has dealt with a strike of education, health and transportation workers, a surge of COVID-19 infections after the province broke from the Atlantic bubble, backlash over an eventually withdrawn plan to replace French immersion and this most recent controversy over public school LGBTQ policy.

Nova Scotia

Despite his own personal appeal, Premier Tim Houston’s government receives poor marks on its handling of Nova Scotians’ top three issues of health care, inflation and housing affordability.

Health care (74%) and the rising cost of living (68%) tower above other issues for local residents. The province’s health care system has suffered from a lack of family doctors and closed emergency departments in rural areas – the latter leading to a man’s death at a local hospital with no doctor and the closest one 30 minutes away. Seven-in-ten Nova Scotia’s believe Houston and the PC government have performed poorly on health care.

The Houston government has also been criticized for a lack of action on inflation, especially for those that need it most. Welfare payments were frozen in the most recent provincial budget. Three-quarters in Nova Scotia say the government’s performance on inflation has been poor:

For most of Houston’s term in office, the Nova Scotia government has performed about average according to the GPI:

Newfoundland and Labrador

Premier Andrew Furey’s Liberal government in Newfoundland and Labrador have taken steps to address that province’s health care crisis. The province folded its four regional health authorities into one as a way to save money and improve services. However, critics wonder if it will hurt the province’s ability to deliver health care in remote regions. As it stands, most Newfoundlanders and Labradorians (80%) believe the province is performing poorly on that file.

Criticism is also high of the provincial government’s handling of cost of living and inflation (86% poor job) and the economy (66%) as Newfoundland and Labrador reels from the delay of the Bay du Nord offshore oil project and a dispute over Atlantic snow prices.

After a one-quarter jump in government assessment, the Liberal government finds itself back near the Canadian average on the GPI:

Survey Methodology:

The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey from May 30 – June 3, 2023, among a representative randomized sample of 3,885 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 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.

For detailed results by age, gender, region, education, and other demographics, click here.

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

To read the questionnaire, click here.

Image – Ford Nation/Facebook; David Eby/Facebook


Shachi Kurl, President: 604.908.1693 @shachikurl

Dave Korzinski, Research Director: 250.899.0821

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