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Government receives good marks for the economy, healthcare, and education, but scores poorly on handling pipelines, gas prices, and the continuing opioid crisis.

Sentiments over housing affordability in the province cool off as environment and climate change anxieties heat up.

Vancouver, BC – Closing in on the two-year anniversary of taking office, BC Premier John Horgan and the NDP government appear to be standing on firm ground with voters in the province. The 2019 issue of Insights West’s “BC Government Report Card” reveals that despite negative reviews on pipelines, housing prices, and homelessness, there are improving scores from BCers on a number of critical issues facing the province, such as healthcare, jobs, and the economy. Overall, the 2019 report is good news for Horgan and the NDP as approval ratings are holding strong and voter intentions show that if an election was held tomorrow, the BC NDP would likely win a majority government.

Key Issues and Decisions

The NDP government scores its highest approval ratings from the BC public on some of the most important daily issues facing every government, with two-in-five giving positive approval ratings for the government’s performance on healthcare (40%), education (40%), the economy (39%), and jobs/unemployment (39%). When compared to results from July 2018’s report, public opinion on the NDP’s handling of the economy and jobs has made the most significant increase, with 22% growth in approval ratings on this dimension.

Conversely, the current government is not scoring as many points with BCers on other key issues. In total, 54% rate them as doing a “bad job” on issues surrounding energy and pipelines, and 52% feel that way on housing pricing and affordability. A similar proportion (48%) feel the NDP is also doing badly on taxes and homelessness, and 43% give a negative review of their record with poverty in BC.

Outside of everyday issues tackled by every government, BCers’ ratings of the NDP on recent decisions show some areas get mixed reviews. Near equal proportions feel that the current government has done a “good job” versus a “bad job” on several matters:

  • First Nations relations – 39% good vs. 30% bad
  • Legal cannabis sales implementation – 36% good vs. 40% bad
  • Money laundering – 36% good vs. 41% bad
  • Management of crown corporations – 34% good vs. 41% bad
  • Contract negotiations with BC teachers – 31% good vs. 32% bad

Yet other findings in the report show a high degree of dissatisfaction with the NDP’s management of other recent matters and developments. The NDP took a big hit for its handling of gas price increases during the spring (64% rated it as a “bad job”) and gets critiques for the Kinder Morgan pipeline (53% as a “bad job”), its handling of ride sharing in BC (51% report a “bad job”), and the ongoing opioid crisis (44% “bad job”).

Most Critical Concerns

Across the array of issues that face the province, two stand out as being of the greatest concern to British Columbians: housing prices and affordability and the environment and climate change. When asked to pick the most pressing issue facing the province today, 27% chose the housing issue, and 20% named environmental issues. Housing is a particularly pressing issue among women (30% rated it the top issue), younger generations (40% for those aged 18 to 34), and residents of Metro Vancouver (32%).

Overall, when compared to data from the July 2018 poll, this does hold some good news for the Horgan government: while home prices and affordability is still the top issue on BCers minds, that high-level concern has dropped from 36% last year, continuing an overall downward trend from the past few polls, in particular since Horgan took office in July 2017.

The same cannot be said for worries about the environment. Concerns over climate change and the environment have dramatically increased across the province, with 20% of BCers listing it as their top issue, a threefold increase from last year when only 7% of BCers named it as their top issue. This reflects a nation-wide concern as covered in greater detail in the recently-released Climate Change Insights 2019 report.

Again, environmental issues and climate change concerns in BC are a greater worry among women (21% rated it the top issue) and the younger generations (top issue for 24% of 18 to 34 year-olds), with a notable spike among residents of Vancouver Island (the top issue on the Island with 27% rating it the most critical matter).

Politics, Parties, and People

With a 48% positive rating, Premier Horgan’s approval numbers are outperforming all of his key political rivals. Across the political spectrum other party leaders have seen a slight uptick, though – the Greens’ Andrew Weaver earns a 40% (+4 points from last wave) approval rating and the BC Liberals’ Andrew Wilkinson scores 27% approval (+ 3 points). Trevor Bolin in his first year as leader of the BC Conservatives debuts with a 14% approval rating.

Despite this, the long-standing rivalry between the NDP and the Liberals retains its dominance on the province’s political landscape. If an election were held tomorrow, 35% of decided voters in BC say they would vote for the NDP, and 30% would choose the Liberals. With 18% for the Greens and the Conservatives at 14%, both of these parties remain on the fringes of power.

The NDP finds its strongest support from women (39%), residents of Metro Vancouver (38%) and Vancouver Island (39%), voters aged 18 to 34 (43%), and 2017 NDP voters (73%). Conversely, the BC Liberals get their greatest support from men (36%), older voters (39% of those 55+), and those living in other parts of the province (31%).

“The NDP is in a good position given that they are two years into their mandate,” says Steve Mossop, President of Insights West. “It’s unusual for a standing government in any jurisdiction in Canada to maintain such numbers half-way through the election cycle. Propelling this is John Horgan’s popularity and strong approval rating, and the NDP’s handling of critical files such as education, healthcare, and the economy.”

The full 2019 BC Government Report Card is available for download here.

About Insights West:

Insights West is a progressive, Western-based, full-service marketing research company. It exists to serve the market with insights-driven research solutions and interpretive analysis through leading-edge tools, normative databases, and senior-level expertise across a broad range of public and private sector organizations. Insights West is based in Vancouver and Calgary.

About this Release:

Results are based on an online study conducted from June 6 to 12, 2019 among a representative sample of 848 residents of British Columbia. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 4.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies between totals are due to rounding. Click HERE to view the detailed data tabulations.

For further information, please contact:

Steve Mossop
Insights West