Canadians are now worried less about health care — it having spiked at the peak of the pandemic — and are more focused today on basic economic issues like paying the rent and feeding the family.

”Health care is still the top national issue of concern at 16% as of the latest available tracking, but it’s down four points over the previous four weeks,” said Nanos Research. “Jobs and the economy have risen two points to 14%, within the margin of error.”

Other issues related to the economy that Canadians said they’re concerned about are inflation, the debt and deficit, and the cost of housing.

All this comes in the wake of the recent federal budget where, according to Nanos, as many as 40% of Canadians believe the new budget will do a “poor” or “very poor” job of addressing their concerns.

Of the more than 1,000 people surveyed, 19% said based on what they have heard they would grade the federal budget as poor when it comes to addressing the issues they and their families are worried about, while 20% say it is very poor.

At the same time, about 70% of survey respondents said they were “concerned” (42%) or “somewhat concerned” (29%) about the budget increasing the country’s deficit, which is expected to be $40.1 billion in 2023-24 or nearly $10 billion more than last fall’s economic forecast.

The latest survey “adds up to about three out of every 10 Canadians focused on meat and potatoes issues, directly related to their pocketbook or to the economy,” said Nanos. “So what we’re seeing right now, at least in 2023, is a move away from issues like health care and now a greater focus on those economic issues.”

Nanos added that its weekly consumer confidence tracking for Bloomberg News showed that while it’s moving from negative towards neutral, Canadians’ concerns about where the economy is headed are still in net negative territory.

While the unemployment rate is holding steady at near record lows of 5.1%, economists are forecasting a slowdown in the economy this year due to the Bank of Canada’s aggressive rate hikes, which they believe will weigh on the economy.

Economists’ predictions of a Canadian recession range from “severe” in the first quarter of 2023 to ‘mild” over the middle quarters.

“Canadians are buckling up for the worst,” said Nanos.

Despite this, the Trudeau Liberal government, and the Opposition too for that matter, appear more satisfied in chasing down some facts regarding Chinese election interference.

All seemed jubilant that they finally managed to get Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chief of staff, Katie Telford, to testify before the committee even though her testimony produced zilch.

But at least they got her, right?

Another shiny object to chase — the economy, rent payments and grocery affordability being too demanding and immediate — Sudan’s main paramilitary group said Saturday that it had seized the presidential palace, the army chief’s residence and Khartoum international airport in an apparent coup attempt but the military said it was fighting back.

But the distraction is nonetheless there.

Also causing great concern amongst the public is that over 100,000 workers with the Public Service Alliance of Canada could be on strike at any given moment.

Nearly 160,000 workers from industries such as the Canada Revenue Agency, Coast Guard, and Service Canada have entered a legal strike position as of Friday.

Even with the thousands of essential workers who will be unable to strike, over 100,000 workers on the picket lines could create significant gaps in many government services.

PSAC President Chris Aylward says thousands of workers have been without a contract since last June and wages are their number one concern heading into any negotiations.

He says federal workers are like many other Canadians who are struggling with the rising cost of living and inflation. He says they’re tired of watching corporate officials make record profits while they continue to struggle.

Hence, the full circle.

Canadians are now worried less about health care and are more focused today on basic economic issues like paying the rent and feeding the family.


  • Mark Bonokoski

    Mark Bonokoski is a member of the Canadian News Hall of Fame and has been published by a number of outlets – including the Toronto Sun, Maclean’s and Readers’ Digest.