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Region of Waterloo Residents Priorities 2020

By Onomo Ogbe

The results of this poll were based on an interactive voice response survey conducted on Wednesday, July 15th, 2020 from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm. A total of 1306 individuals completed the first question of the survey and 633 individuals completed the entire survey.

The survey was designed to provide information to the Region of Waterloo in order to review the priorities in the 2019-2023 Strategic Plan. The first question respondents were asked was about how their wellbeing has been impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic. The results show that most respondent’s (54%) wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic has stayed the same. The pie chart below represents the results.

On the survey, participants were asked about the level of confidence they have in their local government. The results are shown in the chart below, indicating that a majority of citizens (59%) are confident in the regional government to some degree (including somewhat confident, confident, and very confident levels).

  Confidence level   2020 Region of Waterloo Survey
  No confidence at all   12%
  Somewhat confident   23%
  Neutral   24%
  Confident   29%
  Very confident   7%
  Unsure   5%

The poll surveyed region-wide opinions on the quality of life in Waterloo region since the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic. According to the results, most respondents (49%) stated that their quality of life has declined in Waterloo region since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Comparing the above result to the 2019 Region of Waterloo Survey where respondents were asked how their quality of life in Waterloo Region has been over the past few years, we can see that since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic quality of life in Waterloo Region has declined. The chart below compares the results from 2019 and 2020 Region of Waterloo Surveys.

Quality of life 2019 Survey 2020 Survey
  Improved   34%   11%
  Stayed the same   40%   33%
  Declined   26%   55%

The survey was a way to identify the top priorities to inform the review of their 2019 – 2023 Strategic Plan. Respondents were asked what they think is the most important social concern that the regional government should address.  The results, as shown in the chart below, have been ranked based on the number of respondents choosing a given category as their top priority. The top 3 priorities are 1) affordable housing and homelessness, 2) unemployment, and 3) mental health. The bar chart below represents the priorities of respondents.

A significant component of the Strategic Plan focuses on the services that are delivered by the Region of Waterloo, such as public transportation, waste collection, and so forth. In order to better understand the preferences among citizens living in the Waterloo region in relation to payment for the delivery of services, the survey asked: “Regional Government must balance the cost of delivering services with taxation. Which of the following would you most prefer for property taxes in Waterloo Region?” 

Results indicated that 21% preferred increasing taxes to improve services while 16% preferred having property taxes decreased. 17% preferred keeping taxes the same and possibly reducing services. The largest proportion (46%) preferred having taxes increased with the rate of inflation and maintaining current services.

Comparing this result to the 2019 Region of Waterloo Survey we can conclude that there has been a slight change over the year. The chart below compares the result between the 2019 and 2020 Region of Waterloo Survey.

Preference for property taxes 2019 Survey 2020 Survey
Increase taxes to expand or improve services 19% 21%
Increase taxes at around the rate of inflation to maintain services 44% 46%
Maintain taxes and possibly reduce services 23% 17%
Reduce taxes and cut services 14% 16%

Ultimately, the survey helped to provide the Region of Waterloo with important information that can be used to review the 2019-2023 Strategic Plan. A total of 14 questions were administered, yet the responses that have been analyzed above highlight the most critical results that will be taken into consideration by the Region.

Survey Details

This survey was an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) survey which was conducted by Dr. Anthony Piscitelli with the help of Public Service co-op students at Conestoga College.

Sampling Approach

The sample used for this study was created by randomly selecting Waterloo Region landline phone numbers as listed in a digital phone book. As well, a sample of likely cellphone numbers was added by randomly selecting phone numbers that were originally assigned to Waterloo Region according to the Canadian Numbering Administrator. Phone numbers of businesses were filtered out of the randomly selected phone numbers.

Response rate

A total of 1306 individuals completed the first question of the survey and 633 individuals completed the entire survey. The first question response rate was 4.2%, with the full survey response rate being 0.6%. There was a large drop off between questions 1, 2, and 3, due to the fact that 11% of respondents were ineligible due to being under 18 or living outside of Waterloo Region.

Weights

Results of this survey have been weighted by age, gender, and city/township according to the 2016 census. The full weights are posted along with the raw data on OpenIcpsr.org and can be found by visiting: https://doi.org/10.3886/E120453V1

Margin of Error

Results are considered accurate +/-3.9%, 19 times out of 20. The margin of error on subsamples is higher.

Raw Data

Raw survey data is available on OpenIcpsr.org. The data can be found at https://doi.org/10.3886/E120453V1  

Disclaimer

This survey was approved by the Conestoga College Research Ethics Board. Sampling error exists due to the mismatch that is created by the random dialing of phone numbers as opposed to randomly sampling actual Waterloo Region residents.

Living in Waterloo Region 2020 Survey

By Sarah Jefferies

This survey was designed to gain insight on various topics from those who live in Waterloo Region. Several academic researchers, Union Sustainable Development Co-operative, and Scaled Purpose have partnered on this project to learn more about region-wide opinions on different topics and will use this data for research in the future. The questions in the survey explored the respondent’s opinions on COVID-19, politics, investing, and affordable housing, just to name a few. A total of 101 individuals completed the survey, thus the results should not be generalized to a population but instead used to demonstrate some areas that warrant further study.

Results

Although there were many topics covered in this survey, there are a few worth highlighting. One of the first questions asked was their age, which was then categorized into age ranges to present the data. The results show that respondents’ age who participated in this survey are heavily weighted in the categories of 50-64 years old and 65+ years old.

The participants to this survey show that they approve of how well both the federal government and provincial government is handling the COVID-19 pandemic. Results show that 39% strongly approve and 46% somewhat approve of how Premier Doug Ford is handing the COVID-19 situation, with only 12% somewhat disapproving and 3% strongly disapproving of the handling of the current situation. Similar results are shown with the approval of how well Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is handling the COVID-19 Pandemic. 40% strongly approve and 44% somewhat approve of his handling of the situation, where only 10% somewhat disapprove and 5% strongly disapprove of his action during the pandemic.

With the recent mandate of mandatory masks in Waterloo Region, it is promising to see that 86% of the surveyors approve of this practice to help reduce transmission of COVID-19. With only 14% opposing this practice, these efforts will continue to help reduce the cases of contracting COVID-19 in the future.

Another important topic worth highlighting is around opinions on affordable housing, both on a regional and provincial level. Most participants agree that the Ontario government should take action in making housing more affordable for renters. This strong consensus in favour of affordable housing will hopefully translate into support for Union Sustainable Development’s planned Community Land Trust in efforts of developing affordable opportunity development co-operatives in Waterloo Region. Union Sustainable Development Co-operative buys and manages multi-unit residential and commercial properties for the environmental, social, and economic benefit of Waterloo Region.

Conclusion

This live-caller survey offers many insights into the perspectives of those who live in Waterloo Region. Although there was a lack of variety in age ranges, these results can show some insight on Waterloo Region opinions on these important topics. In the future, it will be interesting to see if different age groups would slightly change the results of this survey.

It will be interesting to see if those perspectives change over the next year especially since 2020 has been a historic year in which the world and the Region of Waterloo have witnessed a pandemic. Topics such as wearing masks had no bearing on people’s lives last year but will now continue to be an ongoing conversation.

The survey contained many other questions if you would like to see the detailed results please visit https://doi.org/10.3886/E120552V1

Public Opinion on School Board Trustees in the Early 1990s

By: Jennifer Peers

The school board trustee is a locally elected member of the public and advocate for education. While people vaguely know what a school board trustee is, most may not realize the amount of influence that these individuals have in decisions related to schools. Some of the responsibilities of a school board trustee include assisting in the development of the school’s strategic plans, holding the school accountable to its strategic plans, helping to determine the allocation of resources and creating goals for student’s wellbeing and academic achievement.

We collected nine Canadian survey questions from 1993 to 1997 on the topic of school board trustees. The survey questions and corresponding data have been shared on Open ICPSR for those interested in the data. One of the conclusions that can be made based on the collected data, is that the issue of whether to have school board trustees is divisive. For instance, respondents were asked if they think schools should continue to be governed by school board trustees or whether they should be governed by a volunteer or unpaid council of parents and community members who are elected by an annual meeting of local residents? The results of this survey for 1993 and 1995 show that respondents were closely split on this issue

Question: In most places in Canada, schools are governed by school board trustees who are elected by local voters in regularly scheduled elections. Do you think that schools should continue to be governed this way or would you prefer schools to be governed by a volunteer, unpaid council of parents and community members, who are elected in much the same way as ratepayer executives, that is, by those who attend an annual meeting of local residents?
Answer Options:  1993 n=2001  1995 n=2037
Continue to be governed by elected school trustees47%45%
Governed by volunteer, unpaid council of parents and community members42%45%
Don’t know/Not applicable11%10%

The consistent split between the two years is evidence that there is a number of people who want to continue to have the school board trustee position and a relatively similar number of people who would prefer for schools to have an elected volunteer council made up of parents and community members. The findings from this survey also correlate with a survey question asking the respondents if they feel their school board trustee does a good job or poor job of representing their interests on education issues. The results of this survey were not as equally split but reflect a division amongst people on the issue of school board trustees with 58.9% of respondents saying they do a good job and 41.1% saying they do a poor job.

Like the public servant, the school board trustee is growing increasingly subject to scrutiny, as the public has begun to demand more accountability and transparency. A simple scan of the recent news is evidence of that fact, with multiple school board trustees resigning or being removed from their position for issues such as racial discrimination. As these conversations continue to be had, it will be interesting to see if the issue of whether to have school board trustees continues to be divisive.