Spending Priorities

Economy, jobs top poll
Posted May 30, 2009

Jobs and the economy should be the federal government's top priority, but health care is where Canadians want to see it spend more money. In fact, most Canadians want to see the government spend less to bail out individual industries, even if it is to save jobs.

A Leger Marketing public opinion poll released to Sun Media found nothing else even came close when respondents were asked where the government should focus.

Overall, 42% of respondents said jobs and the economy should be the main priority, with health care coming in a distant second at 14%. The preoccupation with jobs was the highest in Ontario, where 49% said it should be the priority. The highest support for health care (25%) was in Quebec.

"When you go back several years, the number one issue that would be the main priority is often health care," said David Scholz, vice-president of Leger Marketing. "Now you see almost half of Canada, 49% in Ontario, say that jobs and the economy are number one.

"Fighting poverty, education, cutting taxes and crime and justice got some support, but a dozen other subjects ranging from food safety and the war in Afghanistan to agriculture and the relationship with the United States got less support than the percentage of people who were undecided. But when asked where the government should spend more or spend less, the answers were somewhat different and varied considerably across the country.

For example, when asked whether the government should invest in specific sectors to save jobs, 16% of respondents said the feds should spend less.

In Quebec, for example, 4% said the government should spend less, but in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, 39% said the government should spend less.

While cuts to arts and culture funding cost the Conservatives dearly in Quebec in the last election, respondents were most likely to choose that as an area where they would cut.

The poll found that 32% would cut spending on cultural, sports and recreation infrastructure -- ranging from 15% in Quebec to 49% in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. While 42% would reduce grants to cultural industries, that ranged from 28% in Quebec to 59% in Alberta.

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