At the Manitoba provincial leaders’ debate on Aug. 28, NDP Leader Wab Kinew reiterated that “this election is about health care,” and according to a new poll many Manitobans tend to agree.

The survey was conducted by Probe Research for CTV News Winnipeg and the Winnipeg Free Press between Aug. 13 and 24. It asked 1200 Manitobans what the top-of-mind issues were during this provincial election and found that one issue trumped all others: health care.

Nearly 45 per cent of respondents said health care is a key issue, with around 15 per cent of Manitobans also citing the economy, taxes, the environment and education as top concerns.

Some of the other topics brought up by less than 10 per cent of Manitobans include the provincial budget, infrastructure, crime and meth.

When looking specifically at demographics, the numbers show that health care was top-of-mind for women and older Manitobans, while concern over taxes tended to rank higher among men.

Winnipeg respondents showed more concern when it comes to health care, crime and meth, while northern and rural Manitobans were more likely to say the economy, taxes and education are the key issues.

When broken down further into political views, the survey show that supporters of different parties care about different things. Nearly 65 per cent of NDP supporters cited health care as a main election issue, as well as 51 per cent of Liberal supporters.

PC supporters were more likely to say the economy and taxes were top-of-mind issues, while the Greens showed more interest in the environment.

Most Manitobans think province should spend more on services

The survey also asked respondents whether they think the government should balance the budget as soon as possible and spend less money on services, or if it should spend more money on services and take longer to balance the budget.

Nearly 40 per cent were in favour of balancing the budget ASAP, while over 60 per cent think the province should be spending more on services.

The poll found support for balancing the budget was highest among rural Manitobans, men, those with a high school degree or less and PC supporters. Meanwhile support for spending on services was more popular among Winnipeggers, women, university graduates, as well as NDP, Liberal and Green Party voters.

Minor statistical weighting was applied to the poll to ensure age, regional and gender characteristics reflected Manitoba’s population. A statistical margin of error can’t be ascribed to an online panel, but for purposes of comparison a sample of 1200 people would have a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points 95 per cent of the time.

The provincial election takes place on Sept. 10.