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Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, centre, talks with eighth-year-old Mila Greco, second left, and and her mom Trisha Greco, left, at their home before announcing mental health funding at campaign stop during the Canadian federal election in Kanata, Ont., on Aug. 31.Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

Canadians have reservations about private health care options and prefer subsidized child-care spaces over tax deductions on child-related expenses, a poll on several election issues suggests.

Health care and child care have been among the key points of debate in the federal campaign ahead of the Sept. 20 election.

Both poll questions were part of a survey conducted by Nanos Research for The Globe and Mail and CTV.

On health care, Nanos Research found that Canadians are more likely to say that private health care options will make the system weaker rather than stronger.

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Thirty per cent of Canadians said they are not comfortable having private health care options, with 23 per cent saying they are somewhat not comfortable. However, 30 per cent said they were comfortable and 14 per cent were somewhat comfortable with private health care options.

In a question on child care, Nanos found that Canadians are more likely to prefer subsidized child-care spaces proposed by Liberals and New Democrats than tax deductions on child-related expenses proposed by the Conservatives.

According to the research, 50 per cent of respondents preferred subsidized spaces while 40 per cent prefer the Conservative tax-deduction approach. Residents from the Atlantic region were more likely to prefer the Liberal and NDP approach while most residents from the Prairies preferred the Conservative approach.

Nik Nanos, founder of Nanos Research, said health care continues to be a consistently important issue for Canadians.

“Although Canadians are more likely to have some level of discomfort rather than comfort with allowing people to pay to have shorter wait times, they are more likely to think that allowing more private will make the health system weaker rather than stronger,” Mr. Nanos said.

“This suggests that health care is more of a defensive issue for the Conservatives compared to the Liberals.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said he supports the current health care system, but wants to see private-sector innovation to improve outcomes.

According to the party platform, a Conservative government would convene a meeting with premiers in the first 100 days of securing power, and propose injecting $60-billion over 10 years into health care by increasing the annual growth rate of the Canada Health Transfer to at least 6 per cent.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has promised to give the provinces $6-billion immediately to reduce health care waiting lists, and $3-billion over four years to hire more family doctors and nurses.

On child care, the Liberals and NDP have both proposed building a $10-a-day child-care system. There is no dollar figure attached to the NDP proposal, but the Liberals have committed $30-billion over five years.

The Conservatives have proposed a refundable tax credit that would be worth up to 75 per cent of child-care costs for lower-income families.

Mr. O’Toole has faced questions about cancelling agreements that the Liberals have struck with various provinces, including a $6-billion deal over five years with Quebec. Premier François Legault has been enthusiastic about the agreement.

Mr. Nanos said the Liberal proposal for subsidized child care is not an overwhelming political winner.

He said that although Canadians are likely united on a child-care plan, there is no consensus on how to proceed.

“The Liberal plan, which is modelled on Quebec’s child-care plan is, not surprisingly, favoured in Quebec. This could help Liberal fortunes in Quebec while being a hindrance to the Conservatives in Quebec.”

On health care, survey participants were asked: “As you know, Canada has a universal health care system which is paid for through taxes. This includes universal coverage for medically necessary health care services provided on the basis of need rather than the ability to pay. Are you comfortable, somewhat comfortable, somewhat not comfortable, or not comfortable having more private health care options in Canada that allow people to pay more to have shorter wait times?”

On the child-care issue, survey respondents were asked: “The Liberal Party and the NDP are both promising to create new, subsidized child-care spaces at an average cost to parents of $10. The Conservative Party says it would take a different approach by converting the existing Child Care Expense deduction into a refundable tax credit that would cover up to 75 per cent of the cost of child care for lower-income families.

“Based on what you’ve heard so far during the campaign on child care, do you prefer the Liberal and NDP proposals for subsidized child care spaces or the Conservative proposal for a tax deduction on child care expenses.”

Mr. Nanos said that although the results of both polls favour progressive parties, the challenge is that they split the progressive vote while Mr. O’Toole’s Conservatives are the only major right-wing option.

The poll on both questions consisted of a hybrid telephone and online random survey of 1,029 Canadians conducted between Aug. 28 and 30. The margin of error for the survey was plus-or-minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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