Canada’s Best and Worst Provinces: 2014 edition

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Alberta still reigns: viewed as best managed, lowest income taxes, and best place to open a new business

Today Abacus celebrates our 3rd annual Best and Worst Provinces Survey release. Just as we did in 2013 and 2012, Abacus has measured Canadian perceptions  on a number of metrics.

As we approach Canada Day, Canadians were once again asked their opinion on country’s best and worst provinces. The survey found that Alberta and British Columbia topped the list on five of the six positive attributes tested while Quebec topped the list in three of five of the negative attributes tested.

Alberta was most likely to be viewed as the best managed province, the province with the lowest income taxes, and as the best place to open a business. In contrast, Quebec was most likely to be viewed as the worst managed province, the worst place to open a business, and the province with the least friendly people.

Other winners (or losers) included British Columbia as having the most beautiful scenery and the place Canadians would most like to visit on a vacation and Newfoundland and Labrador as having the friendliest people. Ontario was perceived to have the highest income taxes while Saskatchewan had the unfortunate distinction of being perceived to have the least beautiful scenery in the country.

Canada Map Best and Worst

Best and Worst Managed

2014
Best managed: Alberta (40%), Ontario (17%), British Columbia (16%)
Worst managed: Quebec (40%), Ontario (23%), Newfoundland and Labrador (7%) / British Columbia (7%) / Alberta (7%)

2013
Best managed: Alberta (35%), Ontario (21%), British Columbia (14%)
Worst managed: Quebec (43%), Ontario (24%), Newfoundland and Labrador (7%)

There were some small changes in Canadians’ perceptions of provincial management from 2013 to 2014. Alberta continued to be seen as Canada’s best managed province by a plurality of Canadians, rebounding by 5% from its 2013 low and finishing at 40%.

Quebec, in contrast, continued to be perceived as the worst managed province by the lion’s share of Canadians (43%). Ontario, meanwhile, was the most polarizing province, with nearly a quarter of respondents seeing it as both the best and worst managed in 2014. Newfoundland and Labrador is joined by British Columbia and Alberta in a tie for the third spot.

Lowest and Highest Income Taxes

2014
Lowest: Alberta (49%), Newfoundland and Labrador (8%) / Prince Edward Island (8%)
Highest: Ontario (31%), Quebec (29%), British Columbia (18%)

2013
Lowest: Alberta (45%), Newfoundland and Labrador (10%), Saskatchewan (7%)
Highest: Ontario (31%), Quebec (28%), British Columbia (19%)

Alberta topped the list again as the province Canadians believed to have the lowest income taxes. The second and third spots are now shared by Newfoundland and Labrador and PEI, locked in a dead heat at 8% each. This battle has bumped Saskatchewan out of its top 3 finish from 2013.

Ontario and Quebec were again almost tied as the province considered to have the highest income taxes followed by British Columbia in third at 19%. Considering that Ontario and B.C. have some of the lowest taxes in the country, the results present a perception problem for both provinces. It seems the grass is always greener when it comes to tax rates in other provinces.

Best and Worst Place to Open a Business

2014
Best Place: Alberta (37%), Ontario (24%), British Columbia (14%)
Worst Place: Quebec (26%), Newfoundland and Labrador (17%), Ontario (16%)

2013
Best Place: Alberta (33%), Ontario (27%), British Columbia (13%)
Worst Place: Quebec (27%), Newfoundland and Labrador (19%), Prince Edward Island (13%)

Alberta was yet again seen as Canada’s most business friendly province with over a third of respondents saying it was the best place in Canada to open a business. Ontario was second with 27% followed by British Columbia at 14%.

Quebec was perceived to be the worst place to open a business followed by Newfoundland and Labrador, while Ontario replaced PEI in the third ‘worst place to open a business’ slot.

Most and Least Beautiful Scenery

2014
Most Beautiful: British Columbia (57%), Newfoundland and Labrador (10%), Quebec (7%)
Least Beautiful: Saskatchewan (46%), Manitoba (20%), Ontario (10%)

2013
Most Beautiful: British Columbia (54%), PEI (9%), Newfoundland and Labrador (8%)
Least Beautiful: Saskatchewan (43%), Manitoba (20%), Quebec (8%)

B.C. once again topped the list of most beautiful provinces, “Beautiful British Columbia” is an appropriate slogan for Canada’s westernmost province. More than half of all respondents (57%) felt that B.C. had the most beautiful scenery while Newfoundland and Labrador inches up one notch to take second place from PEI, a province that didn’t even make it into the top of the list this year thanks to third place coup by Quebec.

Saskatchewan can’t seem to catch a break as it was again perceived to be the least beautiful province, followed by Manitoba and Quebec in third.

Most and Least Friendly People

2014
Most Friendly: Newfoundland and Labrador (22%), Quebec (14%), Ontario (11%)
Least Friendly: Quebec (47%), Ontario (29%), Alberta (7%) / British Columbia (7%)

2013
Most Friendly: Newfoundland and Labrador (22%), Quebec (16%), Nova Scotia (12%)
Least Friendly: Quebec (46%), Ontario (29%), Alberta (8%)

This category saw a small change for third place compared to the results from 2013. Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans were again most likely to be considered Canada’s most friendly, followed by Quebec and Ontario, which has knocked Nova Scotia out of the top three. Over one in four respondents selected Canada’s easternmost province as the friendliest, followed by Quebec and Ontario. As a region, Atlantic Canada was seen as the friendliest by almost half of Canadians.

Quebec was perceived to have Canada’s least friendly people, as over four in ten respondents selected La Belle Province. Ontario was second at 29% while Alberta tied with British Columbia for third at 7% each.

Place Canadians Would Most Like to Visit

2014
Most Like to Visit: British Columbia (35%), PEI (15%), Newfoundland and Labrador (14%)

2013
Most Like to Visit: British Columbia (33%), PEI (13%), Newfoundland and Labrador (12%)

Overall, there was no observed change in travel preference between 2013 and 2014. Canadians, it seems, want to visit the coast, with three-quarters of Canadians selecting a coastal province for their vacation destination of choice. While a third of Canadians would like to visit British Columbia (35%), 43% would like to visit one of the Atlantic provinces.

Methodology
The survey was conducted online with 1033 respondents in English and French using an internet survey programmed and collected by Abacus Data. A random sample of panelists was invited to participate in the survey from a representative panel of Canadians. The survey was completed from June 6 to 7, 2014.

Since the online survey was not a random, probability based sample, a margin of error could not be calculated. The Marketing Research and Intelligence Association prohibits statements about margins of sampling error or population estimates with regard to most online panels.

The margin of error for a probability-based random sample of 1033 respondents using a probability sample is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.

The data was weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, education level, and region.

These questions were posed as part of the Abacus Data monthly Omnibus survey.

Alex Monk leads Abacus Data’s Business Strategy and Implementation practice and manages the development and testing of all online surveys and panels. He is also responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of Abacus Data and overseeing the company’s accounting department. Alex earned his BA (honours) in Political Science and Economics from Carleton University, and is a Certified Management Accountant (CMA)

Contact Alex Monk, CMA:

T: 613-232-2806 x.249

E: alex@abacusdata.ca

W: http://www.abacusdata.ca