A majority of Ontarians from all parties are worried about Ontario’s rising debt and deficit.
According to an Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News, 71 per cent of respondents said they’d prefer spending cuts in order to balance the budget rather than continuing to run deficits (17 per cent) or raise taxes (12 per cent).
While PC respondents greatly favoured the spending cuts (89 per cent of them), more than half of Liberal (52 per cent) and of NDP (59 per cent) voters said the same.
“It’s important to note that a lot of times, and he talks about the deficits, you could say, well, it’s easy to paint people on a party line,” Sean Simpson, Ipsos Canada’s vice-president of public affairs, said.
“But in fact, we’ve reached a consensus here that a majority of voters supporting every party want reduced spending to balance the books.”
As for who will do the best job, about a third (34 per cent) of Ontario respondents think PC Leader Doug Ford will do the best job, while 26 per cent say NDP Leader Andrea Horwath will. Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne is in third place with 13 per cent of respondents thinking she’d be the best candidate.
But about 28 per cent of Ontarians don’t think any of the candidates are up to the task.
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Currently, Wynne and the Liberals have recently introduced a $6.8-billion deficit in the latest budget in 2018-19, while Horwath and the NDP have proposed a smaller $3.3-billion deficit in the same year. Meanwhile, Ford and the PCs have promised to balance the books.
Simpson said that in a previous poll, Ontarians believed the Liberals’ latest budget was an attempt to buy their vote, and not an attempt to stimulate the economy – which is a lead-in to today’s numbers.
“When the budget came out, only 25 per cent of people in Ontario supported it,” Simpson explained.
“Now, where I think we begin to understand why people want cuts because they didn’t think that that deficit spending was necessary in the first place.”
Wednesday’s poll found that eight in 10 (83 per cent) of Ontarians believe that since the economy is not in a recession, the government should balance the budget.
Another 69 per cent said reducing taxes to give Ontario families more money would be better for stimulating the economy.
Only 26 per cent of respondents said running deficits is no big deal; but if you break that down by party, 46 per cent of Liberals agreed with that statement, while only 33 per cent of NDP voters and 16 per cent of Tory voters said the same.
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How much is Ontario’s debt?
Ontarians have previously listed reducing the province’s debt and deficit is a top election issue, but a majority of respondents admitted they didn’t know what the provincial debt currently is. (Hint: it’s more than $300 billion.)
Only 32 per cent of respondents correctly listed the debt. Forty per cent of respondents said they didn’t know, while another 28 per cent answered incorrectly (saying they thought it was smaller than $300 billion).
Simpson says the fact that people still want to balance the budget despite not knowing the exact numbers proves it’s an important issue.
“We’ve been hearing in the news that Ontario is the most indebted sub-national jurisdiction in the world,” Simpson explained.
“You don’t need to know the specific number. All you know is that people are paying attention.”
This Ipsos poll on behalf of Global News was an online survey of 1,000 Ontarians conducted between May 11 and 14, 2018. The results were weighted to better reflect the composition of the adult Canadian population, according to census data. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is considered accurate to within plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.