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Canadians value public services over tax cuts: new poll

Nanos Research shows broad support for social safety net in tough times.

NUPGE President James ClancyOTTAWA, January. 14, 2009 — As Prime Minister Stephen Harper prepares to meet with Canada's First Ministers this week to discuss the economic downturn and the next federal budget, a new Nanos Research poll suggests Canadians want to see a stimulus package that invests in public services at the top of the agenda.

Commissioned by the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), the poll asked Canadians about their attitudes towards how the government is handling the economy, running a deficit during the current economic crisis, whether cutting government services will make the economic crisis better or worse, and about the importance Canadians place on services like health care, social services, education, and justice in the current economic climate.

"The numbers clearly show that Canadians are united behind the idea that we need a stimulus package that invests in the public services that people depend on, even if that means running a deficit," said NUPGE President James Clancy. "We're also seeing a rather lukewarm response here to how the government is handling the current economic crisis. It's not all about tax cuts and bailouts in the minds of Canadians. It's about people, jobs, and protecting our social safety net during tough times."

When asked how important it is for the government to increase investment in public services like health care, education, social services, and the justice system during an economic downturn, 70 percent of respondents ranked it important (25.3 percent) or very important (44.5 percent) compared with nine percent who felt it was not important. In addition, a majority of Canadians also said that cutting government services would make the economic downturn worse.

"The research indicates that regardless of one's political stripe, there was a significant body of opinion which supported the notion that we have to protect our social safety net during tough times," said pollster Nik Nanos of Nanos Research. Nanos said he felt that the results underline that Canadians are ready for an economic stimulus package that should include support, not cuts, to government services."

The Harper government should redouble its efforts to work with the provinces to deliver the kinds of public services Canadians have identified as important, said Clancy.

"As the federal government prepares what will be a very important budget, I think the message from Canadians right across the country is clear: they value the public sector and want to see those services and jobs protected and strengthened as we look ahead."

The research was part of the Nanos national random telephone omnibus survey. It was conducted among 1003 adults from January 3-7, 2009, and is considered accurate to within plus/minus 3.1 percent, 19 times out of 20. Full poll results and tabulations can be seen at www.nupge.ca or www.nanos.com.

Links and sources
  www.nanos.com
  www.nupge.ca

Posted: January 14, 2009

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