Between 1998 and 2000, respondents continued to moderate their views of the seriousness of most overall political and macroeconomic issues, maintaining trends begun between 1996 and 1998. On virtually all issues covered in the survey, overall levels of concern were lower in 2000 than in 1996 among most constituencies.
The notable exception to this overall movement was respondents’ views on High Taxes. On this issue, concerns increased slightly for most constituencies, reflecting a continuing debate around the impacts of taxes on Canadian competitiveness. For all constituencies except private sector labour, levels of concern on this issue stood at the same or higher levels than in 1996. At the same time, between 1998 and 2000, there was an increase in concerns around Interest Rates, especially among management respondents, reflecting their view of potential interest rate movements in the context of a rapidly growing economy. Between 1998 and 2000, most constituencies’ views of the seriousness of Government Deficits/Debt remained largely unchanged, in spite of many jurisdictions’ moves to deal with these issues.
Chart 3 shows how the proportions of respondents who perceived these issues as serious problems changed between 1996, 1998, and 2000.
It is apparent from the chart that almost universally, in each of the four constituencies, the proportion of respondents viewing these issues as serious problems has declined steadily since 1996. In some cases, the decline was marked, especially in constituencies’ concerns over National Unity and Lack of Jobs. However, for the most part the direction of change since 1996 has been similar among all constituencies.
Of parallel interest is the fact that on several issues, the views of labour and business respondents appear to have converged somewhat, while on others they have diverged. Thus, the four constituencies were much closer together in 2000 than in 1996 in terms of their concerns over Government Deficits/Debt, National Unity, and High Interest Rates. In contrast, they are further apart in their perspectives on Lack of National Consensus on Economic Priorities and Lack of Jobs.
This convergence or divergence may signal the issues on which future debates between the constituencies may occur, with less of a focus, perhaps, on deficits/debt or national unity, and more of a focus on broader economic priorities and job creation.
Chart 4 illustrates how the proportions of respondents who viewed individual labour market issues as serious problems changed between 1996, 1998, and 2000.
It is clear from the chart that in every constituency except public sector management, levels of concern over Skill Shortages were higher in 2000 than in 1998 or 1996, particularly among Private Sector labour respondents. Private Sector labour and business respondents now express the same degree of concern over this issue - a notable convergence from 1998. The Skill Shortages issue remains a major concern of all constituencies.