Navigator’s nationwide online survey was conducted to understand Canadian attitudes toward federal infrastructure spending. The study was undertaken between January 22 and January 29, 2016.
The survey sampled 1,211 Canadian residents 18 years-of-age or older. Quotas were established to ensure that the sample was representative of the provincial populations and age distributions. A random sample of this size would yield a margin of error of 2.83%
Federal government Infrastructure spending generates widespread public support
In the current pre-budget period, widespread support for the federal government’s proposed infrastructure spending to stimulate the economy emerges nationally, with almost eight-in-ten (78%) Canadians registering support for spending on items like public transit, social housing and green initiatives.
Support is notably strong: more than one-third (35%) of Canadians ‘strongly support’ such spending.
Given the pervasiveness of support, few regional differences emerge, though residents of Atlantic Canada are among the most likely to support (81%) overall and most strongly support (54% ‘strongly support’ infrastructure spending). Residents of Alberta, by contrast, are somewhat less so inclined: 74% support, with 32% strongly supportive.
A majority of Canadians support infrastructure spending that results in a deficit of $10 billion for each of the next three years
While support for infrastructure spending declines when linked to a $10 billion dollar deficit each year for the next three years, majority support continues to be apparent: 51% of Canadians indicate support for spending that will result in deficits of $10 billion for each of the next three years.
Regionally, residents of Atlantic Canada are most supportive of deficit-financed spending on infrastructure (65% support), while Albertans are least receptive (42% support).
Little change in public support emerges, should the government spend more on infrastructure even if it means that the deficit will be more than $10 billion. Almost one-in-two Canadians (48%) continue to support infrastructure spending that would result in more infrastructure spending with a deficit of somewhat more than $10 billion.
Support declines as the size of a potential deficit increases
Should the federal deficit rise to $15 billion or up to $20 billion, public support declines. Just over one-third (36%) of Canadians would support a budget deficit of up to $20 billion for the next year.
Clearly, tolerance for deficits is apparent. In challenging economic times, there is receptivity to stimulus spending that results in deficits. Despite such tolerance, deficits must be contained and include a plan for a return to a balanced position, if public support is to be maintained.
One-in-two Canadians support immediate relief to oil producing provinces
Half of all Canadians surveyed (49%) would support immediately directing $1 billion to oil producing provinces for infrastructure projects. Alberta residents stand out as most supportive (72%) of immediate federal funds being directed to oil-producing provinces.