Poll: 40% of Canadians disapprove of 2018 budget, overwhelmingly prefer Ottawa balance the books
In a survey by Toronto-based Forum Research Inc. shared exclusively with the Financial Post, 38 per cent of respondents said the budget was bad for the economy, while 27 per cent said its impact would be neutral, with only 15 per cent saying it would have a positive impact. Twenty per cent of respondents said they did not know.
More broadly, 40 per cent of respondents disapproved of the budget, with 17 per cent approved. Thirty-one per cent were neutral and 12 per cent did not know.
Forum collected responses from 941 randomly selected Canadian voters for the poll, with a margin of error of three per cent, 19 times out of 20.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau tabled his third budget Feb. 27, which was widely criticized in the business community as it lacked new measures to make Canadian firms more competitive to counter tax reforms in the U.S.
Business associations, economists and company executives had been calling on Morneau to match, in some form, recent moves by U.S. President Donald Trump to slash corporate tax rates and allow corporations to immediately write off large capital expenditures.
The Forum poll also found that 61 per cent of respondents prefer balanced budgets over new spending on programs, while 39 per cent preferred higher spending. However, support for balanced budgets eroded when respondents were presented with specific new spending plans.
“The reaction to the 2018 budget is a strong contradiction: in general, Canadians overwhelmingly say they prefer a balanced budget over more spending, but ask about specific new spending from the budget, and they’re strongly supportive, almost across the board,” Forum president Lorne Bozinoff said in a statement.
When asked about Ottawa’s plan to invest $1.3 billion over five years for the conservation of land, waterways and wildlife, 62 per cent of respondents supported the spending, with 45 per cent in strong support.
Roughly seven in 10 respondents, or 69 per cent, said they supported the government’s plan to spend $175 million to provide clean drinking water on First Nations’ reserves, with 53 per cent strongly supporting the measures. Voters similarly supported plans to invest in science and technology, offer free admission to national parks and anti-addiction funding.
Forum said that support for the Liberals was down four points compared to its last survey in January.
About one in 10 respondents who identify as Liberals said they were less likely to vote Liberal on account of the budget. More broadly, roughly four in 10 voters, or 44 per cent, said they were less likely to vote Liberal in the next election, while 14 per cent said they are more likely to vote Liberal. Twenty-eight per cent said it would have no impact, and 14 per cent said they did not know. As many as 46 per cent of those polled supported the Conservatives, 43 per cent supported Liberals.
Bozinoff said negative responses to the budget could be compounded by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent trip to India, which was criticized in both Canadian and Indian media for lacking substance.
“Overall, the public’s reaction to the budget and to the Prime Minster’s visit to India may be contributing to the Liberals’ overall erosion of support,” Bozinoff said.
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