Canadians were asked which election issue they cared about most. Here’s what they said – Toronto Star

Subhramanyu Mohapatra shows off his ticket for a COVID-19 vaccination at a pop-up clinic at the Warden Hilltop Community Centre in Toronto on June 15, 2021.

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By Alex BallingallOttawa Bureau

Wed., Aug. 25, 20212 min. read

OTTAWA — The COVID-19 pandemic was the top concern for Canadians heading into the federal election campaign, followed by the economy and climate change, according to research provided exclusively to the Star.

After the deaths of more than 26,000 people, numerous stay-at-home orders, and a federal push to acquire vaccines against the coronavirus, 27 per cent of Canadians identified the pandemic as “the most important issue facing Canada today,” according to an online survey by the public relations firm Navigator.

The survey asked the question without providing a list of options, and was conducted over several days early this month, before the federal campaign started on Aug. 15.

The findings suggest that many voters remained preoccupied with COVID-19 almost 17 months after the pandemic began. Through the first 10 days of the campaign, all parties have highlighted how they would prepare Canada for a future health threat, including by ensuring Canada can make its own vaccines and has an adequate stockpile of personal protective equipment.

Health care has also figured prominently in recent days of the campaign, with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau accusing Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole of planning to create a “two-tiered” health care system because he supports provinces that allow residents to pay for health services like MRIs, so long as everyone still has access to care.

The Liberals have pledged $6 billion to help provinces hire thousands of doctors and reduce wait times, and the Conservatives pledge to increase how much federal health transfer payments to provinces grow every year so that Ottawa distributes an additional $60 billion over the next 10 years.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is promising to expand public health care to include dental care and mental health care for people who don’t have private coverage. The NDP has also vowed to spend $10 billion next year to start creating a universal pharmacare system.

The Navigator survey also found that 26 per cent of Canadians identified economic issues as the most important facing the country: 15 per cent mentioned the economy and recovery from the pandemic as their top concern; six per cent pointed to government spending and the federal deficit; and five per cent cited jobs, unemployment or the cost of living.

Another 15 per cent identified climate change or the environment as the most important issue facing Canada.

The online survey of 1,825 Canadian adults was conducted from Aug. 6 to 12. The results are considered accurate within 2.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.


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