Canadians want higher taxes

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities released a large poll today — the largest of its type on municipal issues.  The poll seems reasonably well done with decent questions and language.  Many of the results are to be expected: strongest support for increased funding for health care, with increased funding for local infrastructure as a solid second in terms of priority.

What surprised and stood out for me was the high level of support for increasing the GST back to 6% and investing that funding in local infrastructure.  Almost two-thirds — 64% of  the 2,000 people polled — supported this proposal, with only 17% strongly opposed.  Clearly the Harper government’s GST cuts have gone over like a bit of a lead balloon with the public.   The poll found majorities for this proposal in every region of the country and for every size town or city.   It would have been interesting to see the breakdowns for this question by income group and demographic class, but this wasn’t provided.

A poll that is highlighted on Toronto Mayor David Miller’s One Cent Now campaign site pegs support for this at 84%, although there were a limited number of options in that question. 

Given that federal surpluses are shrinking (thanks in large degree to large tax cuts), I’d like to see other reliable polling with questions along this same vein, tying specific tax measures to specific types of public spending.


  • Given the terrible infrastructure deficit that exists in our municipalities, especially in Ontario, and ever-rising municipal taxes, I am not at all surprised by the poll results. Unfortunately, even if larger polling were to show the results, I doubt that the ideologically-driven Conservative Party would pay much heed, given their seemingly endless enamourment of tax-cutting as the sole solution to all things fiscal. Keep in mind the pugnacious and odious comments by Jim Flaherty recently when he tried to interfere with Ontario’s budget process by suggesting that unless corporate taxes are lowered, Ontario will be the last place business wants to invest in.

  • While it doesn’t make reference to specific tax measures, a national poll by the Canadian Education Association in 2007 found that 56% of Canadians were willing to pay more taxes for education, up from 46% in 1984.
    Support was lowest in Quebec, but in other regions hovered around 60%.

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