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CAUT/ACPPU Bulletin Online


Vol 60 | No 10 | December 2013

Poll results show majority of Canadians hold favourable view of unions

Back Print
A majority of Canadians believe that unions and employee associations play a positive role in Canadian society, according to the most recent public opinion poll commissioned by CAUT.

In a Harris/Decima survey conducted last month, 56 per cent of Canadians had favourable views of unions, with 70 per cent saying unions are still needed today. By contrast, just 28 per cent of Canadians hold negative views of unions and a similar number said they are no longer needed.

Support for unions is highest in British Columbia where 63 per cent of respondents held positive views of unions.

The survey also found that Canadians are suspicious of politicians who hold anti-union views. A clear majority — 53 per cent — of respondents said they are suspicious of government and politicians who try to limit collective bargaining and the political power of unions.

“It’s a pleasant surprise that in spite of the anti-union posturing by the federal and some provincial governments, most Canadians continue to hold positive views of unions and employee associations,” said CAUT’s associate executive director David Robinson.

Robinson added that a strong majority of Canadians are opposed to so-called “right to work” legislation that would allow individuals to opt out of paying dues even though they would continue to receive benefits negotiated by the union.

According to the survey, two-thirds of Canadians think everyone in the workplace should be required to pay union dues if they benefit from the union’s work.

However, Robinson noted that Canadians are divided in their views of public sector unions. Forty per cent believe that governments should have the right to impose contracts on public sector workers, while 42 per cent disagree.

Similarly, Canadians were equally split over whether public sector unions should have the right to strike. Forty-four per cent backed taking away the right of public sector unions to strike, while 42 per cent disagree.

“While Canadians’ views of public sector unions are almost evenly split, the results nevertheless mean we need to do some more work in convincing more people of the importance of respecting the collective bargaining process,” Robinson said.

The survey also shows that support for the federal Conservatives at just over 26.5 per cent is at its lowest level since 2006. Meanwhile the Liberals have widened their lead to 35.9 per cent, while the NDP has the support of about 24 per cent of Canadians.

The telephone poll of 2,000 adult Canadians, conducted Nov. 7–18, has a margin of error of ±2.2 per cent, 19 times in 20.