By May 6, 2013 0 Comments Read More →

Ontario budget chatter online

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The Ontario Liberal Government presented its 2013 budget on May 2. While looking at the different budget-related issues being discussed online, we found there was a certain amount of overlap across the different issues. Using Sysomos Heartbeat, we identified some of the most mentioned issues. The following is a breakdown of ten of those issues and what is being said about each.

Education/Students/Youths

Discussions concerning youth, students and education focus on the budget’s Youth Job Strategy, tuition breaks for postsecondary students and the roll-out of full-day kindergarden across the province. Though there are mentions of all these topics, the main focus is on the new Youth Job Strategy which is said to have the potential to create 30,000 new jobs for youths and students. Skew: positive.

Tax

People participating in discussions on taxes have focused primarily on cuts and how they have affected Ontario’s revenue. There is also discussion on elimintating tax loopholes, and on the two cent gas tax for municipal transit. Skew: neutral.

Economy/Debt/Deficit

Many participants are concerned Ontario’s debt is now larger than all the other provinces combined. Some had positive reactions to proposed measures to eliminate the deficit by 2017-2018 while still protecting the public service. Skew: neutral.

Employment/Jobs

The focus is very much on the Youth Job Strategy to help with youth employment. Some chatter deals with employment standards and the removal of barriers to employment for people who receive social assistance, both of which are seen positively. Skew: positive.

Austerity/Austerity Measures

The public considers this to be an austere budget. Which should be a concern for the government since many suggestOntarians can no longer afford the costs associated with austerity and that instead of making cuts, the government should be focused on stimulating growth. These conversations frame the budget in a much more negative light. Skew: negative.

Election

Conversations on Andrea Horwath and the NDP’s decision regarding the budget have led to concerns about a possible provincial election. Within these mentions, debates have emerged regarding the need for an election so soon after the last one. Skew: neutral.

Spending

Tweets focus on the 1% cap on public sector spending and the fact that 5% of Ontario’s population accounts for two-thirds of the $48 billion health care spending. Most of the sentiment surrounding spending was negative with many Tweeters lamenting how the Ontario Liberal Government is continuing to increase spending with no real improvements. Skew: negative.

Business

Concerns hinge on delaying corporate tax breaks the impact of the budget on small business. There appears to be confusion on the interpretation of the budget’s actions in regard to small businesses. While the media coverage concerning the Ontario Government’s measures toward small business was mostly positive (citing the expansion of the health care tax credit to companies with up to $450,000 in payroll) some individuals believe the Government is not doing enough to help small business owners. Skew: positive.

Poverty

Most participants feel the Budget takes active steps to reduce poverty, particularly the social assistance reform which includes a $200/month earnings exemption to help welfare recipients keep more of their income and help them get back into the full-time workforce. However, there are also a number of people who retweeted the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty’s article Wynne’s First Budget – More Austerity and Deeper Poverty. Skew: positive.

Health Care

Tweets about health care are mostly positive, discussing how the Budget focuses on investing more money in community-based programs and services, helping to ensure more people have access to health services. Skew: positive.

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About the Author:

Mark Blevis is a digital public affairs strategist and President of FullDuplex.ca, an integrated digital communications, public affairs and research company. His work focuses on the role of digital tools and culture on issues and reputation management. He also leads research into how Canadian opinions are shaped through online content and interactions.