Roughly 63 per cent of Canadians, or just shy of two-thirds, said that governments should have put the hammer down sooner with stricter measures including travel bans, curfews and lockdowns, in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.
“Canadians do expect their governments to lead. They do expect that their governments are going to be making the tough decisions and they do expect that their governments are going to be providing an example,” said Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos, in an interview with Global News.
“And so far, 63 per cent of Canadians don’t believe government institutions are doing the job.”
The other third said they believe the government made the best decisions possible based on the information available to them at the time. That chunk of Canadians also said they believe the decisions were made in an effort to keep the economy open as long as possible, Ipsos polling said.
Younger Canadians were a smidge more sympathetic to the government’s timing with respect to enacting stricter measures. A total of 42 per cent of those aged between 18 and 54 said the government did the best they could, while just 30 per cent of those over the age of 55 took a more conciliatory view.
The polling also dug into who Canadians think is to blame for the current COVID-19 case count — and no clear culprit emerged. Many pointed the finger at the government, but even more Canadians blamed one another.
“When you ask the question of who’s most to blame for the fast spreading of the cases and the extensive spreading of cases that we’ve had in Canada, yes, they do blame government to a certain extent, but an awfully large number of Canadians are actually pointing at themselves and pointing at other people,” Bricker said.
“So they know that this just isn’t a matter of what the government tells us to do. It’s also very much driven by what we decide to do ourselves. And for a lot of Canadians, their fellow Canadians are not doing what they need to in order to shut down this disease.”
Just over three in 10 of those polled, totalling 31 per cent, said individual Canadians were the most to blame — saying they don’t think people followed physical distancing rules very well. Another 16 per cent of Canadians pinned the blame on the federal government, and just five per cent said the provincial governments were to blame.
However, digging into that figure, 10 per cent of Canadians aged 18 to 34 blamed the provinces — compared to just four per cent of those aged 35 to 54. Meanwhile, just two per cent of Canadians over the age of 55 blamed provincial governments.
Provinces have jurisdiction over health and education – which means that as the virus spread, they took the lead on imposing specific lockdowns, curfews or school closures. The provinces have also been charged with actually administering the vaccines, while the federal government is taking the lead on buying the doses.
The feds, however, are responsible for imposing travel bans and have taken the lead on some other aspects of the coronavirus response, meaning every level of government is responsible for some of the jurisdiction when it comes to enacting restrictions.
“People actually have a pretty practical understanding of how (COVID-19) spreads. It’s not mystical. They know it’s come in from other places and then it gets transmitted through the general population,” Bricker said.
“Why did it take so long for governments to restrict the ability of people to move over our borders? So that’s one that has to lie at the desk of the federal government. But then it comes down to questions of what the provinces have been doing in order to stop the spread within their own jurisdictions. And the public finds that wanting, too.”
Ipsos also asked Canadians if businesses or pharmaceutical agencies are at fault for the COVID-19 case counts, but just two per cent believed that was the case. That figure is primarily comprised of younger Canadians, as seven per cent of those aged 18 to 34 blamed pharmaceutical companies — compared to one per cent of those aged 25 to 54. No Canadians over the age of 55 believed these companies should carry blame.
There were other demographics that saw different results when it comes to the blame game.
Canadians who make over $100,000 a year were more likely to blame individual Canadians for not following COVID-19 protocols properly, while fewer Canadians who make less than $40,000 per year said the spread of the virus is attributable to their peers.
Meanwhile, residents of B.C., Quebec and Atlantic Canada were also more likely to pin the blame on the fellow average Canadian than those living in Alberta.
There were also those who leaned toward playing the more extreme blame game. Over a quarter of those polled say everyone is equally to blame for the spread of COVID-19, while just under a fifth of Canadians said it’s nobody’s fault.
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 Feb. 2 and Feb. 3, 2021, with a sample of 1,000 Canadians aged 18+ interviewed online. 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.