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Pharmacare and minimum wage help Wynne’s Liberals: Poll

Pharmacare and minimum wage help Wynne’s Liberals: Poll
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Free prescription drugs and a higher minimum wage could boost Premier Kathleen Wynne’s political health, a new poll suggests.

The latest Campaign Research survey found that 72 per cent of respondents approve of the Liberal government’s new pharmacare program, which gives free medication to everyone 24 and under.

Only 18 per cent disapproved of the “OHIP+” program, which launched on Jan. 1, and 10 per cent had no opinion.

The poll also showed that 60 per cent approve of the recently increased $14-an-hour minimum wage and its scheduled rise to $15 next year, while 31 per cent disapprove and eight per cent are unsure.

Campaign Research’s monthly tracking survey found Patrick Brown’s Progressive Conservatives at 35 per cent, Wynne’s Liberals at 34 per cent, Andrea Horwath’s New Democrats at 23 per cent, and the Greens, led by Mike Schreiner, at six per cent.

“There’s still a tie between the Liberals and the Conservatives,” said Campaign Research CEO Eli Yufest, who noted last month the Grits were at 35 per cent, the Tories at 34 per cent, the NDP at 22 per cent, and the Greens at seven per cent.

If those numbers hold up for the next five months, Ontarians could be in for a hung parliament after the June 7 election.

“Certainly, it would be a minority government (with these results). Whether or not it would be a PC or Liberal minority is too tough to tell, because we don’t have the history of the new ridings,” said Yufest Friday, referring to the 17 newly created constituencies being contested.

“However, the potential for Liberal gain based on the drug coverage as well as minimum wage suggests that the Liberals have room to grow,” he said.

That’s because the poll found the Liberals could add six percentage points from self-identified Tories and New Democrats willing to switch their vote, thanks to the pharmacare plan.

Similarly, two-percentage points are up for grabs due to the possibility of PC or NDP voters moving because of the minimum wage hike.

“So all in, we’re looking at an eight-percentage points’ increase, if the Liberals can hang their coattails on those two policies.”

Campaign Research polled an online panel of 1,544 Ontario voters between Tuesday and Thursday. A probability sample of that size would have a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Yufest noted the poll found Wynne’s approval rating has “inched up” to 20 per cent from 19 per cent last month and 16 per cent in November .

The premier’s disapproval rating was 66 per cent, down from 67 per cent in December, and 13 per cent didn’t know.

Brown’s approval rating was 29 per cent, which is what it was last month, and his disapproval was 28 per cent, compared to December’s 29 per cent, while 43 per cent were uncertain.

In November, Brown’s approval rating stood at 21 per cent largely due to a barrage of union-funded attack ads.

Horwath remains the most popular of the three major party leaders; her approval rating is 36 per cent, and is up from 33 per cent a month ago.

The NDP leader had 21 per cent disapproval rating, which is better than 24 per cent in December, and 43 per cent had no opinion.
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