With one month to go before the Ontario election, voters still consider health care the top priority and trust Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty to best manage the issue, a new poll suggests.

Health care was listed as the issue of greatest concern by 26.4 per cent of Ontario voters who responded to the latest poll by Nanos Research for CTV and The Globe and Mail.

Jobs and taxes also rank high on the list of election priorities at 16 and 15 per cent respectively.

"What the polling suggests is that about one out of every four Ontarians identifies health care as their number one issue of concern," pollster Nik Nanos told CTV News.

"Issues that touch the day-to-day lives of Ontarians are more likely to move votes."

When asked which party leader they trust to manage the province's health-care priorities, 27 per cent of respondents chose McGuinty while 22 per cent chose Conservative Leader Tim Hudak.

The poll found that 16 per cent of voters trusted NDP Leader Andrea Horwath to handle health care concerns. More than one-third of respondents (34.4 per cent) said they either didn't know who to trust or didn't trust any of the leaders.

How the leaders are perceived on the election's top issues could play a significant role in deciding who forms the next government. But Nanos said it was still too early to say what issue would drive the election.

The focus on health care has actually dipped slightly since the previous Nanos poll was released on Aug. 13. The number of people who see high taxes as the top concern has had a marked increase over the same period, likely due to the effect of attack ads targeting McGuinty's tax record and news coverage of British Columbia's decision to scrap their Harmonized Sales Tax, Nanos said.

Most important issue of concern (August poll results in brackets):

  • Health care -- 26.4 per cent (28.9)
  • Jobs/economy -- 16 per cent (21)
  • High taxes -- 15 per cent (10.5)
  • Education -- 9.5 per cent (8.3)
  • Environment -- 3.3 per cent (4.5)
  • Debt/deficit -- 3.2 per cent (4.3)
  • Gas Prices -- 2.5 per cent (1.1)
  • Unsure -- 13.9 per cent (8.4)

Doctors and ER top health care priority

When asked to single out the health-care priorities that are most important personally, 34.1 per cent of respondents felt the shortage of family doctors was the most pressing.

Another 31.4 per cent felt emergency room wait times were the highest priority, 25.4 per cent said managing rising health-care costs, and 5.2 per cent said user fees. Another 3.9 per cent of respondents were undecided.

The poll found, however, that health-care priorities tended to shift depending on where the respondent lives.

In the Greater Toronto Area, for example, 37.2 per cent of responders felt emergency room wait times were the top concern, while 44 per cent of respondents residing in North and Eastern Ontario felt doctor shortages were more important.

Poll methodology: Between August 30th and September 1st, 2011, Nanos Research conducted a random telephone survey of 1,005 Ontarians 18 years and older. A random telephone survey of 1,005 Ontarians is accurate plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.