Prairie residents happiest, most optimistic: Bensimon Byrne’s economic poll

The term "go west" received a significant boost last week thanks to a new survey that claims Canadians on the left side of the map — particularly those who call the Prairies home — are feeling more optimistic than anywhere else in the country.

A survey of consumer attitudes, commissioned by advertising agency Bensimon Byrne and conducted by the Gandalf Group, revealed that among the 1,500 Canadians polled, people in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta are the happiest and most optimistic about the future.

"Financial security is a big driver for happy and we know we're in pretty good shape relative to the rest of Canada right now. A lot of my numbers suggest that," Doug Elliott of Sask Trends Monitor told the CBC.

In fact, economic growth in the Prairies region have brightened the outlook of many in the area. Of the 1,500 Canadians surveyed, 70 per cent said they believed the national economy will be stronger next year — but that number fluctuated depending on which province the subjects called home.

At 71 per cent, Ontario residents are at the national average, while Quebec exhibited the least optimism at 55 per cent. Quebec subjects also had low expectations for their province's economic future, citing limited job opportunities as one of the reasons why they felt concerned. Only 43 per cent of them expected Quebec's economy to improve a year from now.

Prairie dwellers tipped the scale in the other direction, with over 80 per cent citing a favourable outlook for both the country and their own provincial economies.

But the westward optimism stopped shy of British Columbia, where the numbers looked similar to their counterparts in Ontario and Atlantic Canada.

"A lot has been written about how strong the economy is in the west, but I think the disparity is really eye-opening." Jack Bensimon, whose ad agency has been conducting the poll for the last few years, told the CBC.

"The only place in the country where people feel they're making more money now than they were five years ago is in the west, in the Prairies specifically."

In downtown Regina, where new skyscrapers are currently under construction, the CBC asked local resident Darlene Solie whether she agreed with the overwhelming sentiment.

"It's great. It's one of the best places in Canada and I'll even say the world to live," she said.

The sentiment is echoed in Calgary.

"You kind of feel sorry for other people in other parts of the country where the economy is not doing so well," said Lance Wirth, an executive with Sure Energy Inc. in Calgary, to the Globe and Mail.

Other findings from the survey indicated that men feel more optimistic than women and only one in five Canadians believes the next generation will have a better quality of life than the current one.