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New polling data released today shows that backing for the Vancouver/Whistler Winter Olympic bid is dipping, and that the policies of the Campbell Liberal government in key areas like health care and education are having a negative impact on how British Columbians feel about hosting the games.

According to the survey of 401 British Columbians, the bid is now supported by 50 per cent of the public province-wide, while 37 per cent are opposed. But the results also show that 59 per cent of the public would feel more comfortable backing the games bid if the Campbell government put a halt to its health care and education cuts.

The poll, undertaken for the Hospital Employees’ Union (CUPE) by the firm of Fingerhut Granados Opinion Research, was in the field between Nov. 29 and Dec. 6. It has an error margin of plus or minus five per cent, 19 times out of 20. A copy of responses can be downloaded from HEU’s website at poll results.

The results, says HEU spokesperson Chris Allnutt, also indicate that opinion could turn sharply against the games if Victoria doesn’t shift direction in key areas of public concern. Asked whether they would support the Olympic bid if the Campbell government continues to press forward with unpopular policies in health care and education, 56 per cent of respondents say they’d oppose the games while support would decline to 34 per cent.

And given a choice about how to spend the millions in tax dollars that would be required to stage the Olympics, 72 per cent felt that restoring cuts in health care and education should be the priority, compared to 14 per cent who said it should be spent on the games bid. Likewise, 72 per cent of respondents agree that it’s wrong for the Liberals to spend millions on the bid while at the same time forcing seniors to pay more for prescription drugs.

Results for a much smaller sample size with a higher error margin for Vancouver also offer some potential insights into how the upcoming referendum will be fought. While Vancouver residents currently support the games by a 52 to 36 per cent margin, the Gordon Campbell factor could make the vote a real horse race, Allnutt says.

Province-wide, job creation, tourism growth and other economic factors are cited as the main reasons in support of holding the games. But on the other hand, only 34 per cent of all respondents feel B.C. will end up as net economic gainers from hosting the games, and 59 per cent think they’ll end up paying higher taxes to cover the costs. And only 25 per cent of British Columbians believe Premier Campbell’s claim that that the games will generate $10 billion in economic activity.

HEU spokesperson Chris Allnutt says his union undertook the opinion survey to gauge whether British Columbians link Vancouver’s Olympic bid to the controversial policies of the Campbell government, and whether unpopular measures like cuts in health care and education were impacting support levels for the bid.

“This poll is an important snapshot of public opinion,” says Allnutt. “We’re hopeful that the findings will be a catalyst for the Campbell Liberal government to shift gears and embark on a new, more constructive agenda that will address the public’s legitimate concerns and bring British Columbians together in support of the bid.”

HEU has taken no position of its own on the bid, Allnutt says. He says his union will share the data with key stakeholders, and study it more fully over the Christmas period.

You can download a copy of the polling results at poll results.

Contact: Stephen Howard, communications director, 604-240-8524 (cell)