Younger Canadians' views of our country and its institutions getting progressively worse: Nanos survey

Published March 19, 2023 8:00 a.m. ET
Updated March 19, 2023 12:47 p.m. ET

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Canadians' satisfaction with Canada as a country continues to decline, especially when it comes to perceptions of our political institutions, and younger Canadians have the bleakest view of the nation out of all age groups.

A new Nanos Research national survey found that about two in three Canadians (64 per cent) say they’re satisfied with Canada as a country.

That's a decrease of 10 per cent compared to just two years ago, when 74 per cent of Canadians expressed satisfaction with the country.

When it comes to the mean score – or the average of the group of scores – we’re at 6.6 out of 10 now, versus 7.2 in 2021.

  • 2023 mean score: 6.6
  • 2022 mean score: 6.8
  • 2021 mean score: 7.2

"[It’s] not a great score," said Nanos Research Chair Nik Nanos on the latest episode of CTV News Trend Line. "What we’re seeing is basically a decline, or a drop, in the proportion of Canadians who feel satisfied about the country."


That decline is even steeper when we look at Canadians under the age of 35, for whom the score drops to 5.8.

"Put this into context … the national report card right now would be a C. Canadians would give Canada a C on the satisfaction front. But for individuals that are under 35 years of age, that C grade drops to a D," said Nanos.

Politically, this could be bad news for the minority Liberals, who are trending downward when it comes to support in Nanos’ weekly ballot tracking.

The poor score for the 35-and-under age group should be especially troubling for the Liberals, who inspired a huge turnout amount young Canadians in the 2015 federal election, said Nanos. In that election, the participation of voters 18 to 24 increased by over 18 percentage points to 57.1 per cent.

"I think if you had said fast forward from 2015 to 2023, that young people would be the most pessimistic, that young people would be the least satisfied, you'd probably be very surprised," said Nanos.

"Young people are usually the most optimistic and positive because they're healthy, they're starting to get jobs and they're at the beginning of their earnings cycle … so those numbers for [young] Canadians and their level of satisfaction is absolutely brutal."


And this cloud of pessimism has not gone unnoticed by politicians, including Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, who seems to be using it to gain an advantage. According to Nanos, when Poilievre says Canada seems "broken"—as he did in November last year and repeated again in January -- it’s a message that resonates with Canadians.

The strategy seems to be to lay the blame for our inflation-fuelled sky-high grocery bills, our overburdened health-care system, and everything else weighing Canadians down, at the feet of the prime minister.

Poilievre is trying to paint Liberals as directly “responsible for breaking Canada,” said Nanos, which is a sharply different tactic from opposition leaders in the past.

"Usually they just basically say that the government of the day doesn't do a very good job, that they're incompetent and [are] dropping the ball," said Nanos. "In this particular case, what Pierre Poilievre is saying is that the Liberals are specifically responsible for breaking Canada, and this is a whole new level of rhetoric that we're seeing on the opposition bench."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, for his part, didn’t turn the other cheek to Poilievre’s accusation.

"Let me be clear for the record: Canada is not broken," he said in a December speech, turning Poilievre’s claim on its head while accusing the Conservative leader of amplifying conspiracy theories and avoiding tough questions from journalists.


The Nanos survey also asked what Canadians think of our major institutions and how they contribute to Canada, including those in the political sphere, education, health care, law enforcement and arts and cultural organizations.

The survey found Canadians think our universities (mean score of 7.3) and our health-care system (7.0) are top major contributors to Canada. But they rate our political institutions – including the House of Commons (5.7), the prime minister (4.9), the Senate (4.1), and the Governor General (3.6), as having the lowest scores on the list of contributors.

Watch the full episode of Trend Line in our video player at the top of this article. You can also listen in our audio player below, or wherever you get your podcasts. The next episode comes out Wednesday, March 29, the day after the federal budget is released.

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