Code Red for Victoria’s health care performance — poll

News release

A flashy and expensive six-month government advertising campaign has failed to breath life into the B.C. Liberals’ efforts to get out the “facts” on health care, according to polling data released today by the Hospital Employees’ Union/CUPE.

British Columbians remain unchanged in their view that when it comes to health care, the provincial government is on the wrong track, according to the results of the McIntyre and Mustel opinion survey carried out January 10-15.

Before the government launched its controversial public relations efforts last year, some 56 per cent of the public felt the government was heading in the wrong direction on health care policy, while 34 per cent said it was on the right track.

But after two separate ad campaigns—including one geared to fight “fear-mongering” by health care unions, this critical measure of government performance remains flat-lined: 56 per cent said the B.C. Liberals were going in the wrong direction, 33 per cent the right way.

“When it comes to public attitudes about health care, government actions speak louder than words,” says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. “This government’s agenda of cuts, closures and privatization hits close to home for many British Columbians.”

And while some public opinion measures indicate that government performance on health care is in serious but stable condition, other comparative numbers from the last ten months signal an even bleaker diagnosis:

  • only 16 per cent of respondents believe that Victoria has a workable plan to deliver better health services to the elderly, down from 18 per cent last August;
  • opposition to the Liberal’s three year health care budget freeze set to kick in April 1, has grown from 62 to 71 per cent since last April, 2002; and
  • the public remains concerned that privatizing support services is the wrong answer for patients, and are much less inclined to support an expanded role for the private sector.
Meanwhile, the Premier’s rating as an accurate source of information about health care issues has slumped considerably since August when some 51 per cent did not believe that Campbell was credible. Six months later, that number has risen to 62 per cent.

The telephone survey of 400 British Columbians was carried out January 10-15 and is accurate to within five per cent, 19 times out of 20. Comparative numbers were surveyed August 6-13, 2002, and April 9-16, 2002 (in both cases 500 were polled and the results are accurate to within 4.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.)

Here are the questions: In terms of health care policy and decisions, would you say the B.C. government is generally heading in the right direction or in the wrong direction?

Jan. 2003 June 2002 Right Direction

33

34

Wrong Direction

56

56

DK

11

10

In order to balance the provincial budget by the fiscal year 2004/05, the B.C. government has announced a freeze on the health care budget for the next three years. Do you support or oppose freezing health care spending in order to balance the budget? PROBE: Strongly or somewhat?

Jan. 2003 April 2002 Strongly support 10 13 Somewhat support 14 22 Somewhat oppose 23 19 Strongly oppose 48 43 DK 5 3

Do you support or oppose the privatization of hospital support services? PROBE: Strongly or somewhat?

Jan. 2003 Aug. 2002 Strongly support 20 16 Somewhat support 17 19 Somewhat oppose 15 18 Strongly oppose 40 38 DK 8 9

Some health care services are provided by private businesses which receive some or all of their funding from the B.C. government. The B.C. Liberal government says there should be a larger role for private companies in our health care system. In general, do you believe there should be a larger role for private businesses, a smaller role, or no change?

Jan. 2003 April 2002 Larger role 36 45 Smaller role 29 19 No change 28 30 DK 7 7

Thinking about health care services for elderly British Columbians, do you agree or disagree that the B.C. government has a workable plan to provide better health care services for our seniors? PROBE : Strongly or somewhat?

Jan. 2003 Aug. 2002 Strongly agree 7 4 Somewhat agree 9 14 Somewhat disagree 17 18 Strongly disagree 47 42 DK 20 23

Health care workers and seniors groups say the policies of the B.C. government are putting the health and well being of seniors at risk. The B.C. government says health care unions are fearmongering, and that government policies give seniors more choices about their care. Which comes closest to your view?

Jan. 2003 Policies are putting health & well being of seniors at risk 68 Policies give seniors more choices about their care 22 DK 11

How reliable do you believe each of the following individuals or groups are as a source of accurate information about health care? Please tell me whether you find each of the following very reliable, somewhat reliable, not very reliable, or not at all reliable? ROTATE ORDER

Premier Gordon Campbell

Jan. 2003 Aug. 2002 Very reliable 4 4 Somewhat reliable 32 36 Not very reliable 31 28 Not at all reliable 31 23 DK 3 9

Health care workers

Jan. 2003 Aug. 2002 Very reliable 38 29 Somewhat reliable 46 53 Not very reliable 12 11 Not at all reliable 3 3 DK 2 4

Hospital Employees' Union

Jan. 2003 Aug. 2002 Very reliable 16 14 Somewhat reliable 52 48 Not very reliable 20 20 Not at all reliable 9 7 DK 4 11

-30- Contact: Mike Old, communications officer, 604-828-6771 (cell)