Canada’s unemployment rate hit an almost three-year high in February, and new polling shows Canadian confidence in the economy is at its lowest point in over 20 years.
Ipsos polling has been tracking Canadians faith in the economy for more than two decades, and the latest poll, conducted exclusively for Global News, found just 36 per cent would rate the Canadian economy as good.
The latest data shows confidence levels are at their lowest point since 1995, and have fallen drastically from the 65 per cent level in July 2015.
Looking at the regional breakdown across the country the poll found Albertans are by far the least likely to rate the economy as “good” with just 16 per cent. Those in Atlantic Canada are the most likely to describe the Canadian economy as “good” at 53 per cent, followed by those living in Saskatchewan and Manitoba (45 per cent), Quebecers (39 per cent), Ontario (36 per cent) and British Columbia (34 per cent).
“What we’re seeing here is the collapse of commodity prices particularly oil is starting to dig into people’s own lives,” said Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs. “This is now having a real impact on individuals.”
Alberta has been devastated by the slumping oils and the latest jobs from Statistics Canada saw unemployment in the province rise from 7.4 per cent to 7.9 per cent. Compared to a year earlier, employment in Alberta decreased 21,200 net positions or 0.9 per cent, including a drop of 56,300 full-time jobs or 2.9 per cent. Saskatchewan was also among the hardest hit provinces, losing 7,800 jobs.
“In Alberta, consumer confidence was at its lowest point ever recorded in history in February,” said Julie Adès who analyses consumer confidence data for the Conference Board of Canada. “In Saskatchewan and Manitoba [consumer confidence] is at its lowest since 2009 at the height of the recession.”
Overall Canada shed 2,300 net jobs in February compared to the previous month.
Bricker says the Liberals will need to tackle the country’s bleak economic picture in their upcoming budget scheduled for March 22.
“They’ve got a budget coming out this month and with economic confidence as low as it is the public’s going to be looking for a signal that there’s a plan to help turn this around and that everything is under control and we’re going to have better days ahead,” he said. “This is a new government people are going to be looking for a new approach.”
The new data also shows confidence in the economy has even dropped below the 43 per cent mark in 2009 following the global financial crisis.
Bricker says Canada was relatively insulated from the effects of the global recession in 2008 compared to the U.S.
“At the time of the global recession people were anticipating that things were going to go a lot worse than they did in Canada,” he said. “[Canadians] were really expecting that there was going to be calamity here because of what was happening with the U.S, a mortgage meltdown and people losing their houses and, banks closing down all those kinds of things and that never happened here.”
The new poll numbers suggest Canadians have a less than sunny outlook when it comes to the future of the economy. Thirty-five per cent of Albertans believe that the economy will be worse in six months than it is today.
Here’s a look at how respondents in each province think the economy will be stronger or weaker in six months.
Exclusive Global News Ipsos polls are protected by copyright. The information and/or data may only be rebroadcast or republished with full and proper credit and attribution to “Global News Ipsos.” This poll was conducted between Feb. 19 and March 4, 2016 , with a sample of 1,002 Canadians from Ipsos’ online panel and is accurate to within +/ – 3.5 percentage points 19 times out of 20.
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