CALGARY -- The UCP government has experienced a major drop in public support over the last two months, according to a new ThinkHQ poll released Monday.

According to the poll, a majority of Albertans (53 per cent) disapprove of the provincial government’s performance. The poll found 44 per cent of Albertans approve of the performance.

Broken down further, 38 per cent strongly disapprove of the government’s performance, while only 16 percent strongly approve.

Compared to mid-October, approval for the UCP has dropped 12 percentage points and, according to the poll, the new government is seeing almost identical ratings to what the NDP government had just prior to the spring election.

Marc Henry, president of ThinkHQ, said these are numbers the government can’t ignore.

"When you have one-in-five conservative voters, people who gave them a vote six months ago, now saying I disapprove how the government is handling things, whether it be on the economy, whether it be on health care and education and so on, that’s a big problem," Henry said.

"That’s a number no government likes to see because those are your voters.

"Maybe you can win them back but if they feel like they were misled on a campaign, that’s a vote that is very hard to get back."

Henry attributes the slip in support to a shift on several key issues including jobs, the economy and budget cuts.

Concerns about jobs have increased 14 percentage points since October but the government’s approval rating on the issue has dropped 13 points during the same period.

The government is also seeing a drop in support on the heels of protests and backlash over the provincial budget, in particular health and education

Only 39 per cent of those polled approve of the government’s management of health care, which is down eight per cent.

"Following the provincial election, there was actually a spike in economic optimism among Albertans," said Henry. "The expectation among many voters was that a new government would usher in a speedy economic recovery. That hasn’t happened yet."

On Monday, the premier's office responded to the ThinkHQ poll precisely the same way it responded to previous polls showing waning popularity, saying:

"It’s been a long time since we had an Alberta government with a backbone to say ‘no’ on occasion. We’ve had too many of my predecessors that sat in this chair more concerned about their polling numbers than doing the right thing.

"Reducing public spending is not a quick path to personal popularity, which is why we’ve had 15 years of avoiding the inevitable as the problem has grown on the fiscal side."

The ThinkHQ poll interviewed 1206 people between Dec. 3-6 and has a margin of error +/-2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.