Canada’s Best and Worst Provinces: 2013 edition

Last year we released a survey measuring Canadian perceptions about the best and worst provinces on a number of metrics.

This year again as we approached Canada Day, we have released the latest edition of our annual provincial perceptions survey.

Canadians were once again asked their opinion on country’s best and worst provinces across a range of topics.

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 while Newfoundland and Labrador edged out Quebec and Nova Scotia as having the friendliest people.

Ontario was perceived to have the highest personal income taxes while Saskatchewan had the unfortunate distinction of once again being perceived to have the least beautiful scenery in the country.

Download the detailed tables

Canada Map Best and Worst

Best and Worst Managed

Best managed: Alberta (35%), Ontario (21%), British Columbia (14%)
Worst managed: Quebec (43%), Ontario (23%), Newfoundland and Labrador (7%)

Best managed: Alberta (45%), Ontario (14%), Saskatchewan (12%)
Worst managed: Quebec (47%), Ontario (22%), British Columbia (7%)

There were definite changes in Canadians’ perceptions of provincial management from 2012 to 2013, particularly in provinces which held elections this year. While Alberta continued to be seen as Canada’s best managed province by a plurality of Canadians, it dropped ten percentage points from 2012.

Quebec, in contrast, continued to be perceived as the worst managed province by almost half of respondents (43%). Ontario, meanwhile, was the most polarizing province, with nearly a quarter of respondents seeing it as both the best and worst managed in 2013.

Lowest and Highest Income Taxes

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

Lowest: Alberta (57%), Newfoundland and Labrador (9%), Quebec (6%)
Highest: Ontario (32%), Quebec (31%), British Columbia (16%)

Overall order remained virtually unchanged since 2012, though Saskatchewan edged out Quebec by one percentage point to take the third spot on the lowest income tax list. Alberta topped the list again as the province Canadians believed to have the lowest income taxes. Newfoundland and Labrador trailed well back in second followed by Saskatchewan in third.

Ontario and Quebec were basically tied as the province considered to have the highest income taxes followed by British Columbia in third at 16%. 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

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

Best Place: Alberta (37%), Ontario (22%), British Columbia/Saskatchewan (11%)
Worst Place: Quebec (25%), Newfoundland and Labrador (24%), Ontario (13%)

Alberta was seen as Canada’s most business friendly province with a third of respondents saying it was the best place in Canada to open a business. Ontario was second with 22% followed by British Columbia at 13%.

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

Most and Least Beautiful Scenery

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

Most Beautiful: British Columbia (50%), Newfoundland and Labrador (10%), PEI (9%)
Least Beautiful: Saskatchewan (47%), Manitoba (20%), Ontario/Alberta (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 (54%) felt that B.C. had the most beautiful scenery in Canada, followed by PEI and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Saskatchewan again topped the list for least beautiful province, followed by Manitoba and Quebec in third.

Most and Least Friendly People

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

Most Friendly: Newfoundland and Labrador (26%), Quebec (14%), Nova Scotia (11%)
Least Friendly: Quebec (45%), Ontario (27%), Alberta (12%)

This category saw virtually no change from the results in 2012. Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans were again most likely to be considered Canada’s most friendly. Over one in four respondents selected Canada’s easternmost province as the friendliest, followed by Quebec and Nova Scotia. As a region, Atlantic Canada was seen as the friendliest by over 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 came third at 8%.

Place Canadians Would Most Like to Visit

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

Most Like to Visit: British Columbia (29%), PEI (17%), Newfoundland and Labrador (16%)

Overall, there was no observed change in travel preference between 2012 and 2013. 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 (33%), 41% would like to visit one of the Atlantic provinces.

The survey was conducted online with 999 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 19 to 23, 2013.

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 999 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.

David Coletto is CEO of Abacus Data and leads its Public Affairs research practice. He has a PhD from the University of Calgary and is an adjunct professor at Carleton University.  He’s an avid road cyclist.

Contact David Coletto:

T: 613-232-2806 x. 248



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