COVID-19 lockdowns, restrictions and physical distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic have left more than half of Canadians feeling lonely or isolated, according to a new Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News.
“I think Blursday has set in,” Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos, said, referring to the term coined in 2020 as people struggled to keep track of what day of the week it was during lockdown periods.
“Once you step outside of your household, that life has gone. In fact, you can’t step outside of your household. And that experience, the inability to go to collective events, concerts, movie theatres, go out easily to mingle with your friends is something that people really are missing,” he told Global News.
The health crisis has forced many to refrain from seeing their friends, colleagues and loved ones, especially elderly parents, who are at a greater risk from the disease.
Holidays – like Thanksgiving, Eid, Diwali and Christmas – were more low-key, solitary affairs instead of the large family celebrations.
Amid the restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, social interactions declined by a record 13 per cent last year, Bricker said.
The onset of winter coinciding with a second wave of the pandemic has dampened the spirit among Canadians.
The pandemic has also made people more cynical compared to the early days of the crisis. And the rollout of vaccines has done little to uplift the mood, the Ipsos poll suggested.
In fact, 43 per cent of Canadians are feeling pessimistic about a return to normal life once the spread of COVID-19 is contained.
“People are not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” Bricker said.
“Everything right now is being driven by people’s reaction to the COVID situation, so COVID is dominating everything else.”
Strong provincial identity
The survey of 1,000 participants conducted in December also found that three in four now value time spent with their friends and family more than they did before the pandemic hit the country in March.
Meanwhile, four in ten Canadians feel they have nothing in common with their neighbours.
As cases and hospitalizations have spiked in recent weeks, provincewide lockdowns have been enforced in hard-hit Ontario and Quebec.
Even as the nation continues to grapple with the coronavirus crisis, there is less of a sense of togetherness, with more than half saying the pandemic has not brought Canadians any closer, according to the Ipsos poll.
This feeling was strongest in Alberta – which has seen a 400 per cent jump in hospitalizations since November.
Bricker said people’s experiences with the pandemic have varied across provinces depending on the conditions and health-care services.
“I think over time what’s happened across the provinces is there’s been somewhat of a levelling in terms of the experience that people have with lockdowns,” he said.
“It’s just that as different provinces go through it, the impact at the local level in terms of support for government seems to vary.”
A stronger provincial identity seems to have fuelled the isolation for some Canadians.
Since 2012, provincial identity has strengthened by seven points, with 37 per cent identifying themselves with their province first.
Despite the differences, the majority seem to be on the same page when it comes to the vaccine rollout, with 68 per cent saying they don’t think their province should be first in line to get the doses, compared with 32 per cent who do.
Exclusive Global News Ipsos polls are protected by copyright. The information and/or data may only be rebroadcast or republished with full and proper credit and attribution to “Global News Ipsos.” This poll was conducted between Dec. 11 and Dec. 14, 2020, with a sample of 1,000 Canadians aged 18+ from Ipsos’ online panel. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. This poll is accurate to within ± 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians aged 18+ been polled.