Saskatchewan's Scott Moe is Canada's premier premier - in terms of approval rating

22 June 2018

Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe is Canada’s most approved-of premier, according to a quarterly public opinion survey from research and communications consultancy DART Insight and Communications. Newly-elected Ontario Premier Doug Ford made his first appearance on the survey with a 40% approval rating, while Nova Scotia’s Stephen McNeil and Quebec’s Phillipe Couillard rounded out the bottom of the list with 30% ratings.

DART Insight and Communications is a Canadian consultancy that supports clients in the private, public, and non-profit sectors with communications strategy and execution, media training, events, and corporate services. The firm was founded by veteran pollster John Wright and communications specialist Victoria Ollers.

The firm’s ‘Insight’ division conducts market and public affairs opinion research, including a quarterly survey of provincial voters across Canada. The second-quarter survey, released for this month, reveals that Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has the highest approval rating of any provincial premier. Moe, who assumed the premiership from Saskatchewan Party Leader Brad Wall in January 2018, saw his approval rating rise four points from the previous poll in March to 56%.Approval Ratings at a Glance June 2018The second most popular provincial leader is BC NDP Premier John Horgan at 50% (down 2%). Newly-elected Ontario PC Premier Doug Ford comes in with a 40% approval rating, his first measurement in the polls. Manitoba PC Premier Brian Pallister got 37% approval (no change), while Alberta NDP Premier Rachel Notley gained 2% to reach 35% approval. New Brunswick Liberal Premier Brian Gallant rose 4% to post 33% approval, while Newfoundland and Labrador Liberal Premier Dwight Ball dropped 10 points to 32%. Rounding out the bottom was Nova Scotia Liberal Premier Stephen McNeil (30%, no change) and Quebec Liberal Premier Philippe Couillard (30%, no change).

Trends and Insights

Basically, approval ratings start at a relatively high point and then work their way down as time passes, giving voters time to tire of their provincial leaders, while giving leaders more time to disappoint larger parts of the voting public through controversial policy choices or scandals. The initial honeymoon period can last longer for some leaders, but eventually their constituents will tire of them.

It’s not surprising that the three most popular premiers also happen to have been in power for the shortest amount of time. Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe (56%), BC’s John Horgan (50%), and Ontario’s Doug Ford (40%) have all been in power for less than a year, and are as yet in their approval honeymoon period.

Just scanning the results, we can see that the four least popular premiers are all Liberals – situated in Quebec and the Maritimes (PEI wasn’t included in the poll because of small sample size). However, those premiers, including Couillard, McNeill, Gallant, and Ball, have been in power the longest, allowing more time for their approval rating to drop. Couillard’s approval rating history, shown below, is broadly representative of approval ratings for premiers today: they start out strong for a while, but then drop to somewhere in the 30s after enough time has passed.Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard Approval RatingThings can, however, get worse. Former Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s approval rating bottomed out at 19%, coincidentally the popular vote she received in an election where it was a foregone conclusion that her Liberal Party would lose – bearing the weight of numerous unpopular policy choices (Hydro One sell-off and hiked energy prices) and scandals (e-health, ORNGE, power plants) stretching back to the McGuinty era.

Ford’s 40% approval rating is, interestingly, also the popular vote he received in the recent Ontario election – good enough to form a majority in the Canada’s first-past-the-post, ‘winner takes all’ electoral system. The polarizing Doug Ford’s approval rating is quite low for an initial measurement, tying Brian Gallant for the lowest initial approval rating of premiers currently in power.


Buck illuminates federal budget's impact on employee benefits

01 April 2019

The Canadian federal budget for 2019 ushered in a raft of new program spending. According to human resources consulting firm Buck, the two most central announcements related to employee benefits were the budget’s concrete moves toward a national pharmacare plan, as well as changes to protect employees in the case of an employer’s insolvency.

"While Budget 2019 provides many details regarding a range of measures, we are particularly encouraged by progress toward a national pharmacare program, covering high cost drugs and rare diseases, as there are many cases where such coverage is needed," Karen DeBortoli, director of the knowledge resource centre at Buck, said. "Although the success of the program will ultimately hinge on how it balances coverage with cost, we saw good progress in the new budget this week."

The budget outlined the creation of three national pharmacare projects: a Canada Drug Agency (CDA), a National Drug Formulary, and a National Strategy for High-Cost Drugs and Rare Diseases.

The CDA will work on assessing the effectiveness of new drugs, while serving as the single negotiator for drug prices. The newly created agency will also develop the national formulary – an evidence-based list of prescribed drugs for patients nationwide.

The budget also introduced the creation of a strategy to gather and evaluate evidence on high-cost drugs for rare diseases, while working to negotiate lower prices with drug manufacturers.

Buck illuminates federal budget's impact on employee benefits

"Canada is currently home to a patchwork of federal and provincial pharmacare programs," DeBortoli said. "The replacement of the current patchwork of prescription drug benefit programs, which provide what Budget 2019 acknowledges as 'inadequate and inconsistent coverage,' will be welcomed by most Canadians. In order for the CDA to operate effectively, all provinces and territories must participate. A single negotiating entity will have greater bargaining power, and a single formulary will be of greatest benefit to all Canadians."

Buck hopes that the evidence-based drug formulary will include certain expensive but high-benefit drugs that have a high impact on quality of life and overall healthcare cost reduction. An example is PEI’s Hepatitis C Program, which is providing drug treatment to all provincial resident despite high drug costs to eradicate the destructive liver disease by 2025.

The consulting firm would also recommend the coverage of high-cost “orphan” drugs to ensure affected Canadians don’t fall through the cracks, as well as the institution of low deductibles and no income or coverage cut-offs to maximize the national plan’s utilization rate. The scope of the formulary, coverage restrictions, and any interactions with existing employer programs for now remains unclear.

Protecting pensioners

In the wake of a number of high-profile insolvencies such as Sears Canada and Wabush Mines, the 2019 budget sought to better protect employees and pensioners in the case of an employer’s insolvency. Employees will benefit from proposed changes to the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) and the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (BIA). New measures will allow courts to investigate payments to executives before an insolvency, while requiring that participants in insolvency proceedings “act in good faith.”

Employees of federally incorporated business will also benefit from proposed changes to the Canada Business Corporations Act (CBCA) and the Pension Benefits Standards Act (PBSA). The changes would require publicly traded companies to disclose policies on workers, pensioners, and executive compensation, while also requiring that a wound-up pension plan “provide the same pension benefits as when it was ongoing.”

The budget outlines are, however, more of a foggy outline of good-natured intentions than concrete policy. "The vagueness of the announcements on pensioner protection raise a number of questions, such as how CCAA and BIA changes will protect member and retiree pensions, what is meant by acting 'in good faith,' and the details on forthcoming PBSA requirements on the continuity of pension payments, among others," DeBortoli said.

Buck expects the CBCA changes which require the disclosure of executive compensation policy at publicly traded firms to generate some controversy. And while the measures only apply to federally incorporated businesses, they could eventually serve as a template for broader legislation, according to Buck.