Housing trumps COVID-19 as main issue for GTA voters ahead of federal election: poll
Published Tuesday, August 31, 2021 5:00PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, August 31, 2021 8:11PM EDT
A plurality of Greater Toronto Area residents believe that affordable housing is the single biggest issue facing the region even as a worsening fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic puts the healthcare system and the broader economy under increasing strain, a new poll has found.
Nanos Research polled 518 adult GTA residents about the top issues facing the region and which factors are more likely to influence their vote in next month’s federal election.
It found that 40.8 per cent of respondents identified affordable housing as the single biggest issue in the GTA followed by transit (17.5 per cent) and COVID-19 related issues (13.8 per cent).
The most recent data released by the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board suggests that home values have risen 12.6 per cent over the last year and that the average price across all property types in all parts of the GTA now exceeds $1 million.
Other issues identified by the respondents included the cost of living (5.5 per cent), the economic recovery from COVID-19 (5.2 per cent), the climate (five per cent) and violent crime (4.9 per cent).
Residents in the City of Toronto were more likely to identify affordable housing as their top issue (47.4 per cent) compared to residents elsewhere in the region (35 per cent).
Concern about housing was also more pronounced among younger GTA residents with 45 per cent of those between the ages of 18 to 34 identifying it as their top issue compared to 35 per cent of those between the ages of 35 and 54 and 43 per cent of those who are 55 and up.
Housing affordability has, in fact, been a prominent issue for the leaders in the early days of the campaign with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau visiting Hamilton last week to promote his party’s plans to spend $1 billion on a rent-to-own initiative.
The Conservatives under Erin O’Toole have also promised to build one million homes in the next three years as part of their own multi-point plan to address housing affordability.
“To hit 41 per cent for any issue is quite significant,” pollster Nick Nanos told CP24 Tuesday night. “It speaks to the fact that this is gripping people in the GTA. Especially if you happen to be under 35 years of age, you're probably wondering whether you can afford to buy a home or even just afford to pay rent for that matter, speaks to why all the federal parties right now are fighting over votes when it comes to housing affordability.”
He pointed out that the numbers show that it is not just young voters who are concerned.
“It's not just millennials that are worried, it's middle aged people that are worried about how millennials will be able to get into this market and grandparents, worrying about their kids and their grandkids,” he said.
LIBERALS AHEAD IN GTA
The release of the Nanos Research survey comes with less than three weeks to go until the federal election and polls pointing to an extremely tight race.
Nanos tracking data ending Sunday shows the Liberals projected to win 111 seats compared to 107 for the Conservatives.
However, the Liberals appear to be holding on to their stronghold of the GTA so far.
A separate Nanos Research survey of 502 adults, commissioned by CTV News and CP24, found that 44 per cent of decided voters in Toronto are backing the Liberal party compared to 32 per cent for the Conservatives and 19 per cent for the NDP. The Green Party and the People’s Party of Canada had the support of two per cent and three per cent of decided voters, respectively.
About 13 per cent of respondents in Toronto remain undecided about who they will vote for.
Meanwhile, in the so-called 905 region surrounding the city the race appears to be much tighter.
The poll suggests that the Liberals still have the support of about 41 per cent of decided voters but the Tories are a closer second with the support of 33 per cent of decided voters. The NDP are a distant third in the 905 with the support of 15 per cent of decided voters.
The 905 region has been hotly contested in the past but in the 2019 election the Liberals won all five seats in Brampton and all eight seats in Mississauga en route to forming a minority government. The Conservatives did win a handful of seats in the suburbs north of Toronto in 2019 but ultimately did not make enough inroads in the region to change their electoral fortunes.
About 10 per cent of prospective voters in the 905 remain undecided with three weeks still to go in the campaign, according to the poll.
VOTERS WILL JUDGE LIBERALS ON TRACK RECORD
In addition to surveying prospective voters on their top issues, Nanos Research also asked them to rate the importance of various other factors in influencing their vote.
Respondents assigned the highest level of importance to a party’s plan for the future with a mean score of 8.1.
They also seemed to suggest that the track record of the Liberal party would be an important factor in determining their vote, assigning it a mean score of 7.6.
The performance of the leaders during the campaign period was not considered as important with respondents assigning it a mean score of 6.4
Likewise, while housing affordability was a top issue overall the poll suggested that it may not be a deciding factor come voting day with respondents only assigning it a mean score of 6.8.
The issue-based polling was conducted between Aug. 28 and Aug. 30 and is based on an online survey of 518 adult residents. It is considered accurate to within 4.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
The polling on the race in the GTA was conducted by telephone between Aug. 22 and Aug. 29 and is considered accurate to within 4.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Canadians will head to the polls on Sept. 20.