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Survey shows environment among top three election issues

An Ipsos Poll released earlier this week surveyed 1,500 Canadians on climate issues heading into the federal election
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An Ipsos Poll released earlier this week surveyed 1,500 Canadians on climate issues heading into the federal election.

The poll found that across all voters, one third say climate change is among their top three election issues.

"I don't remember a time in a federal election campaign where the issue of climate change received such attention from leaders and media," says Sean Simpson, Vice President of Ipsos.

The environment trails in importance only behind healthcare and affordability, according to poll results.

Simpson says he's not surprised that many of the priorities fell on party lines.

"Only 12 per cent of Conservative voters say that climate change is among their top three issues. But for NDP, Liberal and of course Green Party supporters, climate change is top of mind," he tells NEWS 95.7's The Todd Veinotte Show.

But across the board, the poll found that many Canadians aren't willing to make economic sacrifices for the environment.

"Forty-six percent say I'm not willing to spend a dime to help the fight against climate change," explains Simpson. "Presumably believing that government already has enough money and that it's their job to be doing it."

Similarly, only one in three Canadians are willing to prioritize environmental activism at a risk to economic growth.

"On the other end of the spectrum we've got about 12 per cent of Canadians who say there's no urgency required to fight climate change if it comes at the expense of our economy and jobs," adds the pollster.

The majority, 56 per cent, advocate for a balance between the two.

Comparing the issue to health care, Simpson says Canadians are concerned about problems, but also about inefficient spending.

"When we ask people do you want more money in the health care system, they say "Well yes, but I feel like we could do a better job with the money that's already allocated towards health care,'" he explains. "How do we find deficiencies in the system before we throw more money at the problem?"

One prominent environmental issue is carbon taxes. Simpson says 80 per cent Canadians are weary of where tax money will end up.

"They would be more supportive of carbon taxes if they knew that the money was going to green initiatives to help fight climate change," he adds.

But Simpson also thinks Canadians are misinformed about carbon taxes.

"Two thirds believe that most Canadians will pay more as a result of a national carbon tax, and that's not true," he says. "There's rebates available being funded by the carbon tax."

With climate change at the top of people's minds, the Ipsos poll also heard from people who have ideas about just how the government should be fighting climate change.

"Taxing government is obviously up there and reducing the use of single-use plastics is up there," says Simpson.

But many Canadians are concerned about protecting coastlines and mitigating the damage from natural disasters.

"How do we prevent floods, how do we fight forest fires? How do we protect ourselves from these things that seem to happen more often than they used to?" Simpson adds. "It's more prominent in people's minds than maybe it has been in the past."

Find the detailed poll results on the Ipsos website.




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Victoria  Walton

About the Author: Victoria Walton

Victoria is HalifaxToday.ca's weekend editor and a Halifax-based freelancer. She is originally from Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley.
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