April 21, 2004

CAA survey shows highways are top priority for Canadians

Ottawa, Ontario – The Canadian Automobile Association released a new CAA/Earnscliffe public opinion survey that found Canadians are very concerned that roads and highways are in a serious state of disrepair and a growing problem that urgently needs to be addressed by government.

“Three-quarters of respondents believe that improving roads and highways has become an urgent enough issue to make a top priority for the federal government, second only to health care, unemployment and education,” said David Flewelling, President of CAA. “It is obvious that this issue is wider than might have been initially perceived, and the federal government must take this into consideration when considering the development of any infrastructure planning.

Respondents also strongly supported the development of a long-term vision for transportation infrastructure. “What we’ve learned is that Canadians do not just want to hear rhetoric; they want to see progress in addressing the serious deficiencies in our roadways,” said Flewelling.

More than one third of Canadians in the survey stated that roads in Canada are in ‘poor’ condition, and 28 per cent believe that highways are in ‘poor’ condition. The sentiment was particularly strong in Quebec, Atlantic Canada and within rural communities. Fewer than one in five Canadians believe this to be true of other areas like sewers and water treatment facilities. The survey also showed that public opinion is moving towards supporting an investment in all infrastructure, with a clear emphasis on road and highways. Two important reasons support this opinion: First, Canadians want safer, better roads to drive on. Second, they recognize that roads and highways are crucial transportation networks in many regions of the country, particularly where mass transit is not readily available.

Three-quarters of respondents indicated that they felt strongly that federal government spending should be allocated according to need, and that need was greatest for roads and highways. “Canadians overwhelming believe that not enough resources have been devoted to investment in our roads and highways, and believe that more of the excise fuel tax should be devoted to this issue,” continued Mr. Flewelling. “And as the ones that pay that tax, motorists deserve to be heard when the government determines how those dollars are spent on infrastructure, especially as cities and communities re-negotiate their relationships and budgets with the federal government.”

The survey was undertaken by Earnscliffe Research and Communications, and was comprised of a random sample of 1500 Canadians, which yields a margin of error of 2.5%, 19 times out of 20.

CAA is a federation of 11 automobile clubs serving over four million members through 130 offices across Canada.

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