Ford handling health care poorly, say 4-in-5 voters in Hamilton, Niagara and all of Ontario

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Published October 5, 2022 at 5:27 pm

Premier Doug Ford will be campaigning in Niagara Falls but has continued to shrug over why local PC candidates have been dodging local debates. (Photo: CP/Aaron Vincent Elkaim)

Polling reveals 4-in-5 Ontarians, including Hamilton and Niagara residents, believe the Premier Doug Ford-led Ontario PC Party government is mishandling health care.

The premier and his party were returned to office with an 83-seat majority on June 2. That said, staff shortages have been commonplace in the health-care system, where there is heavy attrition among government-employed registered nurses who were hailed as heroes in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. That has factored into provincial governments in Canada making what non-profit Angus Reid Institute describes as “difficult and, at times, unpopular decisions.”

That includes Ontario’s Bill 7, which authorizes hospital staff to move elderly patients waiting for long-term care spots out of hospital and into nursing homes they did not choose.

Angus Reid says its polling of 1,052 adults across Ontario shows 4-in-5 (80 per cent) believe the provincial government is handling health care poorly. That includes 3-in-5 (60%) recent Ontario PC voters.

Respondents from the Hamilton and Niagara area are a small sample size of 107 people. But their 79 per cent disapproval approximates the provincewide response.

Ford and Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney are slated to make an announcement in Hamilton at 11 a.m. on Thursday (Oct. 6).

The healthcare question by Angus Reid was framed thusly: “Do you think the current government of Ontario is a good job or a poor job… on health care?”

Pollees who said they were recent Ford/Ontario PC voters were the largest group in Angus Reid’s survey. Nineteen per cent said the government was doing a very poor job with the health-care file, and 42% rated its management as poor, which rounded off to 60%.

There was 94 per cent disapproval among recent supporters of the Ontario New Democratic Party, which until June was led by Hamilton mayoral candidate Andrea Horwath. Similarly, recent Ontario Liberal voters voiced 89 per cent disapproval, and there was a similar finding among supporters of the Green Party of Ontario. (Green supporters, though, accounted for only 62 of 1,052 people surveyed.)

On the matter of Bill 7, the non-profit polling firm finds 53 per cent of Ontarians believe the measure should not have been considered. Forty-seven per cent see it as necessary.

Men support Bill 7 more than women, who are more likely to work in healthcare and eldercare as nurses and personal support workers. Age groups-wise, nearly 3-in-5 people who 35 to 54 years old are likely to see the legislation as a violation of patients’ rights, which surpasses younger adults and who are 55 and older.

About two-thirds of respondents had not had a family member of friend in long-term care. But there was little to no variation in responses between people who had not seen someone in their social circle go into a LTC and whose who have had.

The pollster provides regional breakdowns of its responses. The small sample size from Hamilton-Niagara of 107 is not big enough to be scientific, but here is how the area compares to the provincewide rates. (The totals do not add up to 100 because “not sure” is also offered as a potential answer.)

The province’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is the only area where a slight majority — 51 per cent — of Hamilton-Niagara who were surveyed approve of the government’s work.

That group is more positive about Ford and the Ontario PCs’ work on deficits and government spending (38% to the province’s 30) than Ontario as a whole. The local assesssments of the province’s relationship with the federal government (44-41) and its handling of the cost-of-living inflation (76-72 bad) are harsher than the provincewide disapproval.

Ontario (1,052) Hamilton-Niagara (107)
Good Bad Good Bad In comparison
Health care 17 80 16 79 Less negative
Labour shortage 22 62 22 57 Less negative
Economy/jobs 38 51 42 47 More positive
Cost of living/inflation 18 72 14 76 More negative
COVID-19 response 49 46 51 42 Less negative
Deficit/govt. spending 30 52 38 44 More positive
Housing affordability 13 79 17 76 Less negative
Poverty/homelessness 15 73 13 69 Less negative
Climate resilience 26 59 28 53 Less negative
Education 30 63 33 58 Less negative
Opioids crisis 16 65 13 60 Less negative
Energy (oil and gas) 23 50 20 51 About the same
Indigenous issues 25 52 23 51 About the same
Senior care 16 77 23 73 Less negative
Relationship. w/feds 44 41 35 44 More negative
Source: Angus Reid Institute

In June, Hamilton re-elected one Ontario PC Party and three NDP members and of provincial parliament: Donna Skelly for the PCs (Flamborough—Glanbrook), and the NDP’s Horwath (Hamilton Centre), Monique Taylor (Hamilton Mountain) and Sandy Shaw (Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas).

Neil Lumsden, a former athletics director at Brock University in St. Catharines, claimed Hamilton East—Stoney Creek for the Ontario PCs and is now Ford’s minister of sport and tourism.

Horwath resigned her seat in late July to run for mayor, meaning a byelection is required to elect a new Hamilton Centre MPP.

(Graphics: Angus Reid Institute; cover photo: The Canadian Press.)

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