Two issues that could end up in the Liberals election platform became headlines this week: banning single-use plastic and the potential for a national pharmacare program.  According to Polly, of these two issues, only pharmacare shows signs of being a ballot-box issue this fall.



On June 10, Prime Minister Trudeau announced his government’s intentions to ban single-use plastic by as early as 2021. Only a couple of days later, on June 12, The Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare released their report calling for the implementation of a single-payer national pharmacare plan.


The latent engagement level of Canadians on the issue of prescription drug prices is high and has been climbing consistently since the summer of 2018, without major events or news stories pushing the issue into the spotlight. For the past year, the number of Canadians discussing the cost of prescription drugs has hovered between 200,000 – 350,000 people.


In comparison, Polly has seen dramatic spikes in engagement over the past year on the topic of plastic’s effect on the environment, but only when prompted by a major event or announcement. As an example, Plastic Free July is an annual challenge that encourages people to use less plastic during the month of July. Engagement peaked at more than 500,000 Canadians in July of 2018, but that number dropped below 200,000 by September of 2018.


The second dramatic spike occurred when the European Union announced a ban on single-use plastic (including straws, plastic bags, cutlery, etc.) in late March of this year. This caused another spike in engagement topping out at 400,000 people engaging on the topic, but again engagement soon began to decline.


While a plastic ban may be part of a larger environmental agenda from the Liberals, on its own the issue isn’t top-of-mind for most Canadians without being prompted. The cost of prescription drugs, however, is an issue confronted by Canadians every time they pay out-of-pocket for medication or tangle with their insurance company.



Research Information

Sample Size: 267,932

Date Range: June 6, 2018 – May 31, 2019


(Feature photo credit: pina messina on Unsplash)

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