Some 90 per cent of British Columbians consider money laundering to be a problem in B.C., the highest level of concern across Canada and higher than the average Canadian, according to a new poll.
Months after the B.C. government released a report that estimated more than $46 billion was laundered in Canada in 2015 — over $7 billion in B.C. — a vast majority of B.C. respondents to the Angus Reid survey said they thought the practice of hiding proceeds-of-crime was a “huge problem” or a “problem.” Four per cent said “not really” or not a problem and six per cent weren’t sure.
The national average was 74 per cent and after B.C., concern about money laundering was highest in Quebec (83 per cent), Alberta (73) and Ontario (72) and ranged between 44 and 54 per cent in the other provinces, according to the poll.
But the percentage of British Columbians who thought the problem was getting worse in B.C. because “it’s happening more and more” was 56 per cent, with 32 per cent saying “it’s happening less and less.”
The poll “suggests that B.C.’s reputation as the hotbed of Canadian money laundering may persist despite findings that report otherwise,” Angus Reid said in a news release.
It said in 2015 Alberta was estimated to be home to $10.2 billion in money laundering, followed by Ontario ($8.2 billion), the Prairies (Saskatchewan and Manitoba) $6.5 billion, with B.C., at $6.3 million, in fourth, “a position that stood contrary to its reputation as Canada’s forerunner in money laundering,” the release said.
The survey found about a quarter of people considered money laundering across Canada to be a “huge problem” and another 56 per cent “a problem, but one among many others.”
About half of Canadians were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with Ottawa’s efforts to prevent money laundering, and, in B.C., the same percentage of respondents were critical of provincial efforts to stem the problem, the poll said.
Two-thirds of respondents support cash restrictions on big purchases, and support at 77 per cent was highest in B.C., the poll showed. And 55 per cent of Canadians (62 per cent in B.C.) support the Canada Revenue Agency conducting “lifestyle audits” on those who “frequently make expensive purchases without an income that would support a lavish lifestyle.”
But 77 per cent were in favour of keeping $100 bills and 91 per cent in favour of $50 bills, the poll found.
B.C. is the only province to hold a public inquiry into money laundering and there was widespread support for the inquiry at the time. And 70 per cent of respondents outside B.C. said an inquiry is needed in their province.
About 40 per cent of B.C. respondents said they felt the inquiry will not help to combat money laundering, while 44 per cent said it would.
The survey was conducted online between July 30 and Aug. 6 and involved 1,524 adults who are members of the Angus Reid Forum. A probability sample of this size has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, according to the pollster.