Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s approval rating has dropped to a new all-time low of just 12 per cent, according to a poll released by the Angus Reid Institute Friday.
The survey was commissioned and conducted by the polling firm from March 6 to 13, following the provincial government’s announcement to cut hydro bills by an additional 17 per cent. The poll is part of Angus Reid’s quarterly assessment of Canadian premiers’ approval ratings across the province.
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Wynne slid four percentage points since the polling firm’s last survey of Ontario voters in December, the “most stark” decline of all the provincial premiers, at a time when the Liberals continued to be hammered over the controversial sale of Hydro One and an auditor’s report that heavily criticized the province’s spending habits.
When asked if they approve or disapprove of Wynne’s performance – 81 per cent said they disapproved, 12 per cent said they approved, while a further seven per cent said they were unsure. Compared with a similar poll in May 2016, 24 per cent of Ontarians polled said they approved of the premier’s performance.
WATCH: Premier Kathleen Wynne determined to stay on as Liberal party leader despite poll numbers. Alan Carter has more.
Additional polling in an online survey by the firm shows that Wynne’s approval rating decline is directly linked to the issue of hydro.
Eighty-two per cent of Ontarians surveyed said they opposed the ongoing sale of shares in Hydro One to the private sector, with 49 per cent indicating they were “strongly” opposed.
When it comes to household energy bills, 74 per cent classified their bills as “unreasonable” and 76 per cent said they expected the Hydro One sale to further increase rates.
VIDEO: Global News anchor Alan Carter speaks one-on-one with Kathleen Wynne about hydro rate reductions
Forty-three per cent said hydro bills would be one of the most top of mind issues on their decision on who to vote for in the upcoming 2018 provincial election.
“I did see the poll, I know that the issue around electricity prices has been very, very hard for people in the province,” Wynne said at a round table discussion with Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid and members of the automotive industry in Toronto.
“People haven’t seen the impact on their bills yet. But you know with all of that, I have a job to do. I made a commitment to the people of Ontario in 2014, I’m doing that job and I’m going to continue to do that job.”
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Wynne said her government had “acted to change” the “burden” Ontario residents have been carrying on their hydro bills, which is why the rate cut was put forth by her government earlier this month.
“She needs to connect with Ontarians at a visceral level. The hydro increases had a very personal and visible impact on them,” Angus Reid Institute Executive Director Shachi Kurl told Global News Friday.
“It’s what I call a “kitchen table” issue. So she needs to reconnect at that level. But at some point, no matter what a politician does, they reach a point at which voters are just too hardened and cynical to turn their opinions around. It remains to be seen whether the Ontario Premier is at this point.”
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Kurl said it was “too soon to say” if the hydro rate cut had been “ineffective” in bolstering support for the beleaguered premier, adding it may take some time for Ontarians to see the difference on their hydro bills and “internalize the change.”
The latest poll numbers follow a trend for the premier with Forum Research and Mainstreet Research showing similar numbers in November with 13 per cent and 15 per cent approval ratings for the premier respectively. At the time, Forum had said it was the lowest value they had “ever recorded for a sitting premier.”
The March poll surveyed a total of 804 Ontarians from a representative randomized sample size of 5,404 Canadian adults who are members of the Angus Reid Forum, with a margin of error of +/- 3.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.