OTTAWA — A new online poll conducted by Leger for The Canadian Press suggests the Trudeau Liberals haven't convinced Canadians the country is doing better under their stewardship.
In all 46 per cent of respondents said Canada is doing worse since Justin Trudeau's Liberal government was elected in 2015, while only 22 per cent believed the country is doing better and 27 per cent said things are the same.
Leger's executive vice-president Christian Bourque said these numbers come despite economic indicators showing the country's economy is performing better than in 2015.
Regional concerns particularly in Western Canada over the state of the oil and gas industry, are affecting the way voters are viewing the overall state of the country, Bourque said.
"In Alberta, for example, we see that 59 per cent of people believe Canada is doing worse, so there are regional issues affecting that overall number, but it is quite staggering," Leger said.
Leger's internet-based survey was conducted using computer-assisted web interviewing technology from Feb. 15 to 19. It heard from 1,529 Canadians, 18 years of age or older, who have the right to vote in Canada and were randomly recruited from the firm's online panel.
The results were weighted to reflect age, gender, mother tongue, region and level of education in order to ensure a representative sample.
While a margin of error cannot be associated with web-panel survey data, a probability sample of the same size would have a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
The poll also looked at what issues are most important to Canadians, suggesting pocketbook issues are what is top of mind. Economic growth and jobs topped the issues list for respondents, followed by taxes and finances.
When asked whether the Trudeau government has done a good job or a poor job on specific issues, 22 per cent of respondents said they felt the Liberals have done a good job on the economy and employment and another 34 per cent are on the fence.
Bourque said the economy is an area the Liberals should focus on as they prepare their campaign messaging for the upcoming federal election, with regional focuses since the level of concern over jobs and the economy varies depending on where Canadians live.
"I think they need to demonstrate and spend time crafting out careful messages about how their plan for successive deficits is actually paying off and making our economy better," Leger said.
Another key finding in the survey suggests a hardening of public opinion against immigration in Canada.
A total of 44 per cent of respondents said they believe Canada welcomes too many immigrants, and 45 per cent said the same of refugees. Meanwhile, 37 per cent said they believe Canada welcomes "enough" immigrants and only 11 per cent said Canada welcomes too few immigrants and refugees.
These were similar to views expressed in a November survey, Bourque says, but notes that a shift has taken place in recent years indicating weakening support for immigration levels.
In past years, there seemed to be consensus that Canada is a welcoming country for newcomers, but poll numbers suggest this perspective has changed.
The Leger survey shows higher numbers of Conservative voters said they believed Canada welcomes too many immigrants, while Liberal voters are more content with current newcomer levels.
There also appears to be little to no differentiation between economic immigrants and refugees, according to the survey results.
"I think immigration is becoming a national issue and one that will need to be addressed by all parties in the fall," Bourque said.
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Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press