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Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau speaks to the Chamber of Commerce March 28, 2019 in Montreal.Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

The 2019 federal budget was “not a political win” for the Liberals and its deficit plans are dividing Canadians along gender lines, says pollster Nik Nanos based on a survey conducted for The Globe and Mail.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau released the government’s pre-election budget on March 19 amid the continuing political controversy over former attorney-general Jody Wilson-Raybould’s allegation that she endured inappropriate pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office to intervene in the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.

The Liberals’ budget message primarily focused on the launch of two new measures: a First Time Home Buyer Incentive and a Canada Training Benefit worth up to $5,000.

The budget also confirmed that – if re-elected in October – a Liberal government would continue to run deficits throughout its second mandate even though the party had previously promised to balance the books by 2019.

The Nanos Research survey found a generally lukewarm reaction to the budget. The two signature items – on housing and training – are not generating strong support. The survey also found Canadians are split on the merits of deficit spending over balancing the books.

“This budget is perceived of as being quite divisive and is not a political win for the Liberals,” Mr. Nanos said.

According to the survey, 37 per cent of Canadians said they had a negative or somewhat negative impression of the budget, compared with 31 per cent who had a positive or somewhat positive impression. A further 24 per cent said their response was neutral.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has said balancing the books will be a priority for his party if elected in the fall.

The survey results show that a focus on eliminating the deficit is more popular among men than women. It also shows Canadians are more open to deficit spending when told that the red ink will pay for spending in specific areas.

For instance, when provided a choice of balancing the books or running a budget deficit to “invest in programs for Canadians,” balancing the books comes out on top – 55 per cent to 43 per cent.

Importance of investing in

programs vs. easing taxes

What is more important to you as a general public policy objective, running a budget deficit to invest in programs for Canadians or balancing the budget to ease the tax burden on Canadians?

Running a budget deficit to invest in programs

for Canadians

43%

Balancing the budget to ease the tax burden

on Canadians

55%

Other

3%

Weighted to the true population proportion.

Charts may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: NANOS RESEARCH,

(RDD DUAL FRAME HYBRID TELEPHONE AND ONLINE

RANDOM SURVEY, MARCH 29TH TO APRIL 1ST, 2019,

N=1,000, ACCURATE 3.1 PERCENTAGE

POINTS PLUS OR MINUS, 19 TIMES OUT OF 20.)

Importance of investing in programs

vs. easing taxes

What is more important to you as a general public policy objective, running a budget deficit to invest in programs for Canadians or balancing the budget to ease the tax burden on Canadians?

Running a budget deficit to invest in programs

for Canadians

43%

Balancing the budget to ease the tax burden

on Canadians

55%

Other

3%

Weighted to the true population proportion.

Charts may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: NANOS RESEARCH, (RDD DUAL

FRAME HYBRID TELEPHONE AND ONLINE RANDOM SURVEY, MARCH

29TH TO APRIL 1ST, 2019, N=1,000, ACCURATE 3.1 PERCENTAGE

POINTS PLUS OR MINUS, 19 TIMES OUT OF 20.)

Importance of investing in programs vs. easing taxes

What is more important to you as a general public policy objective, running a budget deficit to invest in programs for Canadians or balancing the budget to ease the tax burden on Canadians?

Running a budget deficit to invest in programs for Canadians

43%

Balancing the budget to ease the tax burden on Canadians

55%

Other

3%

Weighted to the true population proportion.

Charts may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: NANOS RESEARCH, (RDD DUAL FRAME HYBRID

TELEPHONE AND ONLINE RANDOM SURVEY, MARCH 29TH TO APRIL 1ST, 2019,

N=1,000, ACCURATE 3.1 PERCENTAGE POINTS PLUS OR MINUS, 19 TIMES OUT OF 20.)

Yet, when similar questions are asked that mention specific spending items, support rises for the government’s approach.

A slim majority of 53 per cent either agreed or somewhat agreed with the statement that “federal deficit spending is justified to pay for the measures outlined in the budget in areas such as training, housing and infrastructure.” By gender, 59.3 per cent of women agreed with that statement, compared with 46.8 per cent of men.

Mr. Nanos said the fact that women are more likely to support deficit spending provides context for how parties will target their economic message during the election campaign.

“We also know that women are more likely to support the Liberals, which means that the justification for deficit spending to invest in training and housing is more likely to resonate with the Liberal core voter and women,” he said.

The survey found 43.7 per cent of men said they had a negative or somewhat negative impression of the budget, in contrast to 29.3 per cent of women who had a negative or somewhat negative impression.

Impression of the Federal Budget

Based on what you have heard, how do you rate your impression of the Government of Canada’s budget, also known as the Federal Budget, announced earlier this month on March 19, 2019?

Positive

Somewhat

positive

Neutral

Somewhat

negative

Negative

Unsure

9%

22%

24%

17%

20%

8%

Negative/ Somewhat negative, by gender

43.7%

Male

Female

29.3%

Weighted to the true population proportion.

Charts may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: NANOS research

(RDD DUAL FRAME HYBRID TELEPHONE AND ONLINE

RANDOM SURVEY, MARCH 29TH TO APRIL 1ST, 2019,

N=1,000, ACCURATE 3.1 PERCENTAGE POINTS PLUS OR

MINUS, 19 TIMES OUT OF 20.)

Impression of the Federal Budget

Based on what you have heard, how do you rate your impression of the Government of Canada’s budget, also known as the Federal Budget, announced earlier this month on March 19, 2019?

Positive

Somewhat

positive

Neutral

Somewhat

negative

Negative

Unsure

9%

22%

24%

17%

20%

8%

Negative/ Somewhat negative, by gender

43.7%

Male

29.3%

Female

Weighted to the true population proportion.

Charts may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: NANOS research (RDD DUAL

FRAME HYBRID TELEPHONE AND ONLINE RANDOM SURVEY,

MARCH 29TH TO APRIL 1ST, 2019, N=1,000, ACCURATE 3.1

PERCENTAGE POINTS PLUS OR MINUS, 19 TIMES OUT OF 20.)

Impression of the Federal Budget

Based on what you have heard, how do you rate your impression of the Government of Canada’s budget, also known as the Federal Budget, announced earlier this month on March 19, 2019?

Positive

Somewhat

positive

Neutral

Somewhat

negative

Negative

Unsure

9%

22%

24%

17%

20%

8%

Negative/ Somewhat negative, by gender

43.7%

Male

29.3%

Female

Weighted to the true population proportion. Charts may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: NANOS research (RDD DUAL FRAME HYBRID TELEPHONE AND

ONLINE RANDOM SURVEY, MARCH 29TH TO APRIL 1ST, 2019, N=1,000, ACCURATE 3.1

PERCENTAGE POINTS PLUS OR MINUS, 19 TIMES OUT OF 20.)

Among women, 36 per cent said they had a positive or somewhat positive impression of the budget, compared with 26.5 per cent of men. The option of describing a “neutral” response to the budget was the choice of 24.2 per cent of men and 24.5 per cent of women.

Another question asked respondents to rank their top two new spending items among a list of seven budget announcements.

The plan to spend an additional $4.7-billion on Indigenous programs was the most popular, followed by the $2.2-billion in immediate new spending for municipal infrastructure. The Canada Training Benefit was ranked third and the First Time Home Buyer Incentive was ranked fifth.

The hybrid telephone and online random survey of 1,000 Canadian adults was conducted between March 29 and April 1 as part of an omnibus survey. The margin of error for a random survey of 1,000 Canadians is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.