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Robert Kneschke | Canva

What’s on Albertans’ Minds? Not The Broad Issues But Rather Personal Problems

The latest surveys reveal a significant shift in Albertans' priorities from big-picture worries to immediate, personal pocketbook concerns

Times change, and with them, we do as well. 

Nothing drives that home quite like the latest poll from Janet Brown!

The Alberta pollster and political analyst is back with another in-depth analysis of the most important issues to Albertans.

The biggest takeaway from her poll? 

Albertan’s priorities have evolved drastically over just the past few years.

“The public is reflecting on what’s happening in their lives, what they’re hearing on the news, what is happening around them. That’s just the nature of public discourse. It’s always changing,” said Janet Brown, who conducted the survey for CBC News.

More Focused Concerns

Answers have primarily gone from being very focused on broad issues, like “the economy,” to more immediate concerns affecting us as individuals.

“Instead of talking about the economy and the strength of the economy, people are talking about inflation and cost of living. Their economic concerns have become way more personal,” she stressed. 

“When people are talking about cost of living, they’re talking about how this is really hitting them in their own pocketbook. Cost of living is a more personal response than I’m concerned about the economy,” she added.

Brown’s data shows the drastic flip that has occurred since 2020, as issues like unchecked inflation have had widespread effects on middle-class Albertans.

Health care and housing were unsurprisingly at the top of the list of concerns and “cost of living” and weighed heavily on people’s minds.

This was also closely followed by concerns with the Alberta Government itself.

Janet Brown survey results with Albertans reporting the single most important issue facing Alberta in 2023
Janet Brown survey results with Albertans reporting the single most important issue facing Alberta in 2023 | CBC News

Worried About Quality of Life

Brown’s survey results were mirrored in a survey conducted by the City of Calgary.

Calgary’s survey found that over three in five respondents believed their quality of life had worsened over the past three years, compared with less than half in spring 2023 and 59 percent in fall 2023.

“As in fall 2023, Calgarians are currently experiencing greater uncertainty regarding their own financial well-being as well as that of others in their community,” Chris Arthurs, the City’s general manager, said in a report.

“From rising food prices to the day-to-day expenses of utilities, housing, clothing, transportation and other necessities, many Calgarians are feeling the impacts of inflation first-hand.” 

Arthurs noted that the decline is consistent with other municipalities across Alberta.

How Albertans' opinions of what is Alberta's most important issue have changed over time | CBC News
How Albertans’ opinions of what is Alberta’s most important issue have changed over time | CBC News

Blaming the Government… Or Not?

Brown’s results show Albertans blame some issues on our politicians’ actions (or inaction).

Albertans' approval rating for the provincial government on various topics | CBC News
Albertans’ approval rating for the provincial government on various topics | CBC News

Others are seen as problems that the government doesn’t have much control over.

The rising cost of living, affordable housing, public school systems, drug and alcohol problems and crime are all problems where Albertans see a negative performance in terms of government action – but they don’t blame officials much for it.

This is likely due to perceptions that these problems are “out of our hands.” 

On the other hand, Albertans saw the government as very responsible for healthcare services, post-secondary education, working with our municipal governments, addressing gender identity issues, and the overall honesty of our provincial government. 

These latter issues all received low-performance ratings, and politicians were often blamed for these issues.

On the positive side, people perceive our preparedness for natural disasters as good. Still, they don’t give the government much credit for that.

Respondents also saw the provincial government as responsible for the economy, environmental protection, relations with the federal government, and finances. 

Most said the government is doing well on those issues.

Brown’s survey offers valuable insights into Albertans’ evolving concerns and the dynamics of accountability and expectations in governance.

 Albertans haven’t yet begun to blame Smith’s government for our province’s most pressing issues – like the cost of living and housing.

However, that can change quickly, as Brown’s surveys from recent years illustrate. 

Is the government of Alberta getting appropriate credit or blame for its handling of issues | CBC News
Is the government of Alberta getting appropriate credit or blame for its handling of issues? | CBC News

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