April 20, 2015 6:09 pm
Updated: April 21, 2015 9:39 am

Budget 2015: Canadians pick jobs, social services over balanced books, poll finds

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WATCH ABOVE:  The Conservatives are poised to drop a balanced budget on Tuesday. But, many experts believe the government’s single-minded focus on balancing the budget may not be the best path. Jacques Bourbeau explains.

TORONTO – While balancing the budget may be Finance Minister Joe Oliver’s top priority, a new poll shows Canadians put jobs and the economy first.
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The poll of 1,005 Canadians conducted by Ipsos on behalf of Global News found 59 per cent of respondents prefers a budget that invests in jobs, the economy and social programs even if it runs a deficit, while 41 per cent prefer a balanced budget.

READ MORE: Full federal budget coverage

The poll found that one in three believe that “right now Canada needs to create jobs and grow the economy” and that the federal budget should “make investments in economic growth even if that means increasing Canada’s debt.” More than a quarter (26 per cent) said they think that “right now Canada needs stronger social programs like health and education”; they’d prefer to see a budget that makes “investments in social programs even if that means increasing Canada’s debt.”

Twenty-two per cent of respondents would like to see lower taxes; only 12 per cent want any new money allocated towards reducing the country’s national debt load.

The Conservatives will unveil their long-delayed budget Tuesday, after putting if off in the face of low oil prices and an uncertain economy. The document is expected to spell out how the government intends to reach a surplus by the end of the year and offer a few treats ahead of a looming federal election in the fall.

READ MORE: What Canadians want to see in the 2015 federal budget

Among other things, the budget will support Canadians taking more time off work to help care for dying family members, Global News has learned. A source said Tuesday’s announcement will “significantly extend” the six weeks of pay now covered under the Employment Insurance program.

The budget is also expected to double the annual limit on tax-free savings account (TFSA) contributions – a move the Parliamentary Budget Officer has said will overwhelmingly benefit Canada’s older, wealthier citizens and cost both federal and provincial governments billions annually.

The Ipsos poll asked Canadians which of the three main parties they think put forward the best budget for the entire country, the middle class, the average taxpayer, and their own family. While the results were close in some categories, Prime Minister Stephen Harper bested Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and NDP Leader Tom Mulcair every time.

Best budget for Canada overall:

  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives: 45 per cent.
  • Justin Trudeau and the Liberals: 33 per cent.
  • Tom Mulcair and the NDP: 22 per cent.

Best budget for the middle class:

  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives: 36 per cent.
  • Justin Trudeau and the Liberals: 34 per cent.
  • Tom Mulcair and the NDP 29 per cent.

Best budget for the average taxpayer:

  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives: 37 per cent.
  • Justin Trudeau and the Liberals: 33 per cent.
  • Tom Mulcair and the NDP: 30 per cent.

Best budget for me and my family:

  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives: 38 per cent.
  • Justin Trudeau and the Liberals: 33 per cent.
  • Tom Mulcair and the NDP: 29 per cent.

Ipsos conducted the poll online on April 15 and 17 interviewing 1005 people. The results are accurate to within +/ – 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

*With a file from Amy Minsky

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