NDP and Conservatives better positioned to respond to Canadians’ top election concerns, poll suggests

The NDP have ‘banged the cost of living and affordability drum the loudest,’ while the Conservatives have been campaigning on jobs and taming the deficit

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The top issue among Canadians in the early days of the federal election is improving affordability and cost of living, cited by 28 per cent of polled Canadians as one of their top two concerns, according to a new poll from Maru Public Opinion.

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That was followed by preserving the environment, reducing greenhouse gases, and reversing climate change, cited by 23 per cent of respondents. Curtailing federal government spending so the deficit doesn’t grow came in at number three, listed by 19 per cent. And creating jobs and growing the economy was fourth, chosen by 17 per cent.

Maru had asked 1,511 respondents to “select the two issues or needs that they want to be addressed by the politicians and are currently shaping their ballot box choice.” The sample of online panelists was surveyed from Aug. 13 to 15.

The priorities the respondents chose could favour the NDP and the Conservatives, as opposed to the Liberals, according to the company.

It said in a press release the “two parties most likely getting the most resonance fresh out of the starting blocks” are the NDP, who have “banged the cost of living and affordability drum the loudest,” while the Conservatives have been campaigning on jobs, the economy and taming the deficit.

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The NDP is promising a number of measures to make housing more affordable, including creating a half million units of affordable housing. The party plans to tackle student debt through measures such as a debt forgiveness program that it says would wipe out 20 per cent of student debt in its first year. It has promised to take on the cost of prescription drugs by instituting a universal pharmacare program, and to lower cellphone and internet bills.

The Conservatives have pitched a series of initiatives to create jobs, including paying up to 50 per cent of new hires’ salaries for six months after the current wage subsidy program ends. The party says its plan for economic growth and jobs will reduce the deficit by almost 90 per cent. It has also proposed a month-long GST holiday this December, under which all retail purchases will be tax-free, which the party said would “provide pocketbook relief to Canadian families.”

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Maru said the poll shows that so far, there is no overarching question that is dominating the election. The Liberals called the election on Sunday, with the 36-day campaign wrapping on Sept. 20.

The company said the results should be “worrisome” for the Liberal party, since the survey shows their campaign planks are receiving “very short shrift” by Canadians.

For instance, the Liberals unveiled a national childcare plan in the last federal budget, and have so far reached agreements with eight provinces to implement $10-a-day childcare. But Maru said only two per cent of respondents chose providing “your province with funding for a low-cost daycare program” as one of their top two priorities.

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On face value, the NDP and the Conservatives appear to have more voter-issue alignment

Maru Public Opinion

As he launched the election Sunday, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau framed his government’s plan to require all federal employees to be vaccinated, and to require vaccines to board a train or plane, as not only a ballot box question, but one of the key issues driving the need for an election. “Not everyone agrees. Not every political party agrees. Well, Canadians should be able to weigh in on that,” Trudeau said.

But the Maru poll shows the question of whether employees of the federal government or those in federally regulated companies or agencies should be fired if they’re not vaccinated was only top of mind for four per cent of respondents.

“The NDP and the Conservatives appear to have more voter-issue alignment at this stage in the campaign than the minority-governing Liberals,” the Maru release said.

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The fifth-highest ranked issue was strengthening “the healthcare system by giving more targeted money to the provinces,” at 15 per cent. That’s the same percent of respondents who cited keeping “Canadians safe from COVID” as one of their two priorities.

Slightly lower, at 14 per cent, was doing more to look after Canada’s seniors. Then, eleven per cent cited not increasing or reducing personal income taxes, while nine per cent ranked producing a COVID-19 passport or certificate as one of their two top choices.

Seven per cent chose solving issues involving Indigenous people as one of their priorities. Addressing “international concerns caused by countries like China” came in just after that, at six per cent.

Three per cent chose stopping racism and promoting immigration as a priority, while two per cent picked doing more to restrict the use of firearms.

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NDP and Conservatives better positioned to respond to Canadians' top election concerns, poll suggests