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Housing affordability continues to be the top concern in the province, though the summer concerns about the environment have been eclipsed by health care

Vancouver, BC — As 2019 winds down, the BC NDP appears to be maintaining strong levels of support across British Columbia, with Premier John Horgan’s popularity close to an all-time high, and voter intentions holding steady. BC’s perennial unease over housing remains the top concern among residents of Canada’s westernmost province, and while the government scores favourably on healthcare, education, the environment, and the economy, they are criticized most heavily about ICBC, pipelines, ride-sharing, and the handling of the transit strike. These are a few of the summary conclusions of the November 2019 issue of Insights West’s “Government of British Columbia Report Card” which looks at the issues and politics that define BC.

Approval ratings show stable sentiments towards the BC NDP and Premier John Horgan. For being this far into his mandate, Premier Horgan continues to enjoy a remarkably strong approval rating. Just over half (51%) of BCers approve of his performance, a slight increase from 48% in June. He continues to rate much higher than other party leaders: the Greens’ Weaver scored 38%, Wilkinson from the BC Liberals scored 35%, and the BC Conservatives’ Bolin gets a 20% approval rating. For both Wilkinson and Bolin, though, these numbers represent increases from the previous poll in June – an 8-point increase for Wilkinson and 6 points for Bolin.

This could translate into a closer race the next time British Columbians go to the polls. In fact, if an election were held right now, the NDP would hold their lead across the province, maintaining the 35% voter support they achieved in June of 2019. But they’d be closely followed by the BC Liberals, who ticked up to 32% support from 30% in June.

Another interesting shift is in the works. Andrew Weaver’s resignation appears to have eroded Green Party support, which has dropped from 18% in June to 14% in November. The BC Conservatives appear to be benefiting from that slide as they rose from 14% support in June to 17% in November.

Key Issues and Decisions

According to BCers, the NDP government continues to generate its most positive approval ratings on healthcare (42%), education (40%), the economy (40%), jobs/unemployment (39%), and the environment (38%). These figures are very consistent with the approval ratings from June.

But BCers are not so happy with the NDP government on the issues of housing prices and affordability (58% disapproval rating), homelessness (56%), poverty (51%), and the province’s energy and pipelines (50%).

When asked to rate the NDP’s performance on specific issues and decisions, BCers feel the government performed best in these five areas:

  • First Nations relations – 42% approve
  • Implementing the legal sale of cannabis sales – 40% approve
  • New highways and bridges – 39% approve
  • Money laundering – 34% approve
  • Management of crown corporations – 34% approve

But BCers say the government is failing or making poor decisions on the following issues:

  • Managing changes to ICBC – 57% disapprove
  • Handling of the transit strike – 51% disapprove
  • The Kinder Morgan pipeline – 51% disapprove
  • Ride sharing – 49% disapprove
  • The opioid crisis – 48% disapprove

Of Utmost Concern

Across the array of issues that face the province, politics and policies aside, BCers were asked to rank the biggest concern faced by the province as a whole. Continuing a long tradition, housing pricing and affordability remains the top issue – something that 31% agree they are most concerned about.

Below that, BCers are most concerned about health care (top concern for 12%) and the environment and client change (top concern for 11%). Interestingly, though, the sense of urgency expressed in the summer over the environment and climate changed has dissipated – in June 20% rated it the top issue, dropping 9 points in November.

While housing is the province’s top issue, younger generations are by far the most concerned. For BCers 18 to 34 years of age, the cost of housing is the top concern for 39% almost equalling the concern from the 34% of those 35 to 54 years of age. For those 55 and over, only 25% rate housing as the top concern.

But the 55+ set are much more concerned about health care in BC – 18% rate it as the top issue, a significantly larger number than the 6% of 18 to 34 year-olds and 7% of 35 to 54 year-olds.

“The NDP will close out 2019 on a high note,” says Steve Mossop, President of Insights West. “But recent gains in the approval ratings of Wilkinson and Bolin and the tightening of voter intentions suggests that the second half of the NDP’s mandate will be a little more challenging than the first. Performance on ongoing key files like pipelines, housing prices/affordability, and more recently the TransLink strike and ride-sharing could add some volatility to the current political environment in the near term.”

The full November 2019 issue of the Government of British Columbia Report Card is available for download here.

About Insights West:

Insights West is a full-service marketing research firm based in Western Canada. Since 2012, the company has conducted over one million surveys, executed 2,000 studies, and issued over 350 press releases on a variety of topics, correctly predicting the outcomes of 24 out of 25 elections and plebiscites. Insights West is a team of passionate, truth-seeking researchers who question everything to uncover the truth and what is emerging for a diverse set of clients. With an understanding of shifting markets, consumer and societal trends, and commitment to uncovering truths through a proprietary toolkit and innovative research approaches, Insights West helps organizations make better decisions.

About this Release:

Results are based on an online study conducted from November 7 to 9, 2019 among a representative sample of 808 adult residents of British Columbia, 18 years of age and older. 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 +/- 3.4 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