Pollara Shows How Canada Has Changed Over Past 30 Years

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December 15, 2022 — Pollara Strategic Insights’ new report, “30 Years of Perspective”, revisits polling questions we first asked in 1992, to show how Canadians’ priorities and feelings have evolved over the past 30 years.

On many topics, we see dramatic shifts. With our population aging, “healthcare” and the “Canada Pension Plan” were identified as the two areas where Canadians most want to see government spend more money today. This is a significant change from 1992, when neither of these issues cracked the top 5 spending priorities. Then, high unemployment rates pushed “job creation programs” and “incentives for businesses to create jobs” to the top of the list.

Priorities for
Additional Spending
Priorities for
Additional Spending
Job creation programs
(spend more 74% / spend less 9%)
Health care
(spend more 74% / spend less 3%)
Incentives for businesses to create jobs
(72% / 10%)
Canada Pension Plan
(53% / 4%)
Environmental protection
(67% / 6%)
Environmental protection
(46% / 14%)
Post-secondary education (63% / 7%)Research & Development
(31% / 10%)
Research & Development
(60% / 9%)
Small business assistance
(31% / 11%)

Despite recent rhetoric about declining trust in the performance of government institutions, Canadians actually feel better about the federal government today than they did in 1992. Perhaps this is not surprising given the unpopularity of Prime Minister Mulroney in 1992, but we find that Canadians now feel better about all three levels of government, and the federal civil service. Context is everything on this question. In 1992, governments were in the midst of an extended period of constitutional bickering. More recently, Canadians saw governments spring into action and make a real difference in their lives during COVID.

The two organizations taking the largest reputational hits over the last 30 years are airlines (favourables down from 41% to 21%) and grocery chains (favourables down from 68% to 45%). However, Canadians now feel better about labour unions (favourables up from 18% to 38%) and teacher federations (favourables up from 30% to 42%).

In other areas, the consistency of public opinion is surprising: Canadians are nearly as trusting of the media today as they were in an era before Substack and Twitter, when newspapers and the evening newscast was king. This may be a surprising result given today’s widespread chatter about distrust in mainstream media, but there is a difference in who trusts the media now compared to 30 years ago. While younger Canadians trusted the media more in 1992, today it is older Canadians who trust them more.

To continue down this memory lane, you can read full report details here.

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