Manitobans are embittered at all levels of government: Poll

OTTAWA — Shaken by disastrous COVID-19 outbreaks and environmental uncertainties, Prairie residents are beginning to direct their longstanding anger toward Ottawa at their own provincial governments.

A plurality of Manitobans and Albertans say no level of government best represents their interests, in a poll the Environics Institute describes as a sea change in the way Western alienation plays out.

“Over the past few years, frustration with the federal government has diminished, while dissatisfaction with the approach of prairie provincial governments to key issues has increased,” reads a statement. recent report from the nonpartisan polling firm.

“The recent trend in the region has not been an increase in anger towards the federal government, but a decrease in support for provincial positions.”

All three Prairie provincial governments have faced declining public confidence since 2019.

Polling firm says drop in support comes from opposing groups upset over COVID-19 restrictions: those who oppose government intervention and those who feel not enough has been done to stem deadly epidemics.

The online survey was conducted between January 18 and February 10, after the omicron variant passed through cities like Winnipeg, and just as anti-vaccination convoys began to occupy Parliament Hill and the border crossings.

Across Canada, those who say their own province is the level of government that best represents their interests have varied during the pandemic — except in the Prairies, where that sentiment has plummeted.

Only one-fifth of Manitobans say the province best represents their interests, tied with Ottawa as well as their municipality, while 26% of Manitobans said no level of government represents them well.

At the same time, regional dissatisfaction with Ottawa seems to have peaked.

In 2019, 51% of Prairie residents agreed that “Western Canada gets so few benefits it’s best to go it alone,” the highest proportion since Environics began asking for it each year in 1987.

That number has since fallen to 42%.

Since that summit, the Trudeau Liberals have been re-elected twice with weak representation in the Prairies and no clear plan for their announced transition from fossil fuel jobs to green jobs.

Environics sees the region move from an entrenched sense of alienation from Ottawa to ambivalence about how the Prairies are governed in general, on many topics.

For the pandemic itself, Manitobans lost faith in how the province handled COVID-19 from early 2022 to just a year before.

The percentage of Manitobans saying they trusted their province the most to handle the pandemic fell from 21 to 13 during this period, but there was almost no change during this period in the way Manitobans assessed Ottawa’s handling of COVID-19.

Beyond the pandemic, Manitobans are three times more likely to trust Ottawa than their province to fight climate change.

A measly eight per cent of Manitoba respondents say they trust the province to make the right climate decisions, compared to 31 per cent who trust Ottawa, 23 who have equal confidence in both and 28 per cent who do not. trust any government.

When it comes to health care in general, not just COVID-19, a plurality of Manitobans, 29%, do not trust any level of government to manage health services, compared to 22% who trust the province and 21% who say Ottawa is doing a better job.

However, confidence in how the provinces are managing economic growth and jobs has remained stable since 2019, across the Prairies.

» Winnipeg Free Press

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