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Poll: Most people disagree with Premier Ford on whether carbon tax will cause a recession

February 8, 2019

When Ontario Premier Doug Ford claimed the federal government’s carbon tax would cause a recession in Ontario, many economists disagreed. And it seems most regular people do as well.

According to the first in a series of Clean Energy Canada / Abacus Data nationwide polls:

  • Few Canadians (19%) expect a recession next year. If there were to be one, most (63%) say it would likely have more to do with global economic trends than domestic policies.
  • When told Premier Ford warned the federal carbon tax would cause a recession in Ontario, almost two out of three across the country (64%), and in Ontario (63%), disagreed, believing he was overstating the impact.
  • When respondents were presented with a question which noted that many economists had offered a contrary view, namely that the impact of the tax would be too small to cause a recession, even more people (73% in Ontario, 74% across Canada) rejected Mr. Ford’s contention.

Canadians’ opinion about the federal carbon tax backstop reveals that 35% support the idea, 28% oppose it and 37% say they are open to considering it. When told of the idea that revenues would be rebated to affected households, support climbs by 9 points, and opposition declines by 6 points.

Opposition to the carbon tax is highest in Alberta, but even there only 41% are set against the idea, which drops to 30% when the rebate is introduced.

In Ontario, 34% support, 37% are open to, and 30% oppose the federal carbon tax. With the rebate, support jumps to 42%, and opposition drops to 22%.


“When it comes to climate policy—like climate science—we can choose who and what we listen to. On issues like pricing pollution where some political leaders are aiming to polarize Canadians, it’s critical that evidence and expertise trump political posturing and sound bites. These results suggest that most Canadians believe evidence and expertise are essential—not optional—for good policy.”

—Merran Smith, Executive Director, Clean Energy Canada

“Canadians don’t love new taxes but they are worried about climate change and want a rational discussion of what we can and should do about it. Time after time, people reject rhetoric which sounds far-fetched or over-reaching, which is how people reacted to Mr. Ford’s assertion. There are many chapters yet to be written in this highly charged debate, but this particular idea turned out badly for opponents of carbon pricing.”

—Bruce Anderson, Chairman, Abacus Data


The survey was conducted online with 2,500 Canadians aged 18 and over from January 30 to February 5, 2019.

A random sample of panelists was invited to complete the survey from a set of partner panels based on the Lucid exchange platform. These partners are double opt-in survey panels, blended to manage out potential skews in the data from a single source.

The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 2.0%, 19 times out of 20.  The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding.


Poll | Slides available here

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