Public Release: 

Social values vary across Canada

New survey led by Concordia University sheds light on responsible citizenship

Concordia University

This news release is available in French.

Montreal, November 19, 2013 -- Canada: true north, strong and free. But how strong are our beliefs? How free are our citizens? It depends where you live. According to a national survey led by researchers at Concordia University, the importance of providing assistance to those in need, and the importance of Aboriginal self-governance varies across the country.

A team of researchers from Concordia University recently partnered with the Trudeau Foundation and the Environics Institute for Survey Research to conduct a national poll* on responsible citizenship. The survey focused on two themes:

1. What is society's responsibility to address the social and economic welfare of those in need?

2. What is society's responsibility to address the aspirations of the country's Aboriginal peoples?

Providing assistance to those in need

  • A clear majority (65 per cent) of Canadians want to ensure that the country's social and economic assistance programs are available to everyone. But the public is quick to express clear priorities on which groups should get greater governmental assistance.

  • Seven out of ten Canadians think families with children living in poverty should be the top priority -- rather than young adults having difficulty finding their first job, or people who have been unable to find work for more than a year.

  • Impressions are mixed about the concept of a guaranteed annual income as a way to reduce poverty. Opinions are divided with a slightly larger proportion who favour such a policy (46 per cent) than who oppose it (42 per cent).

  • Support for a guaranteed annual income is the majority view in Quebec and among Canadians with lower levels of education and income, while most strongly opposed by Albertans and high-income Canadians.

Aboriginal self-governance

  • Almost six in 10 (58 per cent) Canadians believe that the country's Aboriginal peoples should have some form of self-government -- an opinion that has gradually strengthened over the past two decades. This is the majority view across the country, except in Saskatchewan and Alberta, where support has declined sharply since 1997.

  • Canadians are most likely to say that Aboriginal peoples should have the powers comparable to a municipality (i.e., still subject to provincial and federal laws), rather than the powers of a province or a nation.

  • By a two-to-one margin (58 per cent versus 29 per cent), Canadians say the current federal government has a moral responsibility to honour existing First Nations treaties, regardless of what this might cost. This is a majority view across the country, except in the Prairies, where opinion is divided.


About the survey: These results are based on a telephone survey with a representative sample of 1,501 Canadians, conducted between September 17 and October 13,2013. The sample was stratified by province and community size to ensure adequate coverage of jurisdictions. The margin of sampling error is +/- 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Results of this survey will be presented and discussed during the Tenth Annual Trudeau Foundation Conference, held in Montreal from November 21 to 23, 2013.

Related links

Tenth Annual Trudeau Foundation Conference

More background on the responsible citizenship survey

Concordia's Department of Political Science

Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation

The Environics Institute

Media contact:

Cléa Desjardins
Senior advisor, media relations
University Communications Services
Concordia University
Phone: 514-848-2424, ext. 5068

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