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Most Canadians think economy, health care worse under Trudeau, according to poll

Public perception shifts from approval to disappointment in Trudeau's leadership
New polling results show that many Canadians have grown dissatisfied with the performance of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over the past four years.

In May 2020, about one in four Canadians told us that Justin Trudeau had performed “better than expected” and had “accomplished much” during the first five and a half years of his tenure as prime minister. Almost four years and one federal election later, the public is not as kind. This month, 55 per cent of Canadians (up 15 points) think Trudeau has “accomplished little” as prime minister and 50 per cent (up 25 points) say his performance has been “worse than expected.”

Many are dissatisfied with the way specific federal competencies have been managed. At least three in five say the Canadian economy (67 per cent, up 19 points), taxation (61 per cent, up 28 points) and health care (60 per cent, up 31 points) are worse now than before Trudeau took office. Almost half also think national unity (49 per cent, up 19 points), public safety (48 per cent, up 25 points) and Canada’s reputation in the world (46 per cent, up 24 points) have decayed since 2015.

A look at specific demographic groups shows how difficult the climb will be for the governing party as the next federal election draws near.

Despite these findings, the official Opposition hasn’t gained much ground in the polls since November. The Conservative Party is ahead with 38 per cent (unchanged) among decided voters, followed by the Liberal Party with 26 per cent (up two points), the New Democratic Party with 20 per cent (down one point), the Bloc Québécois with 10 per cent (up one point), the Green Party with three per cent (down one point) and the People’s Party with one per cent (down one point).

The Liberals trail the Conservatives in Ontario by 10 points (30 per cent versus 40 per cent) and are behind the Bloc in Quebec by six points (28 per cent versus 34 per cent). The Liberals sit at 16 per cent in British Columbia—barely ahead of the 13 per cent the party received in the 2011 election.

There is no movement on approval ratings. Trudeau remains at 39 per cent, below the numbers posted again by NDP leader Jagmeet Singh (48 per cent) and Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre (47 per cent). When asked who would make the best prime minister, almost a third of Canadians pick Poilievre (32 per cent, unchanged), followed by Trudeau (26 per cent, up three points) and Singh (17 per cent, down one point).

The recent pharmacare announcement did not particularly enthuse Canadians. Just over two in five (43 per cent, up one point) are satisfied with what the Liberals and the NDP have accomplished since their March 2022 agreement. Poilievre is also now seen as a competent economic manager by almost half of Canadians (49 per cent, up two points). Trudeau trails on this indicator at 38 per cent (up one point).

Housing, homelessness and poverty remains the most important issue across the country (27 per cent, down two points). The economy and jobs is next at 24 per cent (up three points), followed by health care (15 per cent, down four points), the environment (eight per cent, up two points) and immigration (also eight per cent, up two points).

These results show that many Canadians have grown dissatisfied with the performance of Trudeau over the past four years. The Liberals are currently losing 20 per cent of their 2021 voters to the Conservatives.

The governing party can still steer policy and establish an emotional connection with voters on key issues, but if the proportion of Liberal defectors to the Conservatives gets closer to 30 per cent before year-end, it would signify a wider acceptance of the official Opposition as a government in waiting.

Mario Canseco is president of Research Co.

Results are based on an online survey conducted from April 8-10 among 1,001 adults in Canada. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.