A new poll from Ipsos found that 71 per cent of Canadians are “angry” that Canada is falling behind countries like the U.S. and the U.K. when it comes to the pace of our COVID-19 vaccine rollout. On top of that, just 43 per cent believe Canada will meet Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s professed timeline of having a jab available for every Canadian who wants one by September.
This frustration is bearing out in the polls, where the Liberal lead over the Conservatives has narrowed to just three points, according to a new Ipsos poll.
“The Liberals and Conservatives, for all intents and purposes, are tied right now. So the Liberals have a slight lead,” Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos, said in an interview with Global News.
“This is directly attributable to people’s concerns about vaccines. So the vaccine issue, instead of being a positive for the government – as I think a lot of people anticipated that it would be – has turned into a negative.”
Bricker added that this negative perception of the vaccine rollout is being driven by the government not living up to Canadians’ initial expectations of when they’d be vaccinated.
“They can’t get enough supply to meet overwhelming demand,” Bricker said.
The government was forced to reckon with delays in its supply of both the approved vaccines, from Pfizer and Moderna, in early February. While Pfizer has since ramped up production and both manufacturers insist they’re on track to meet delivery deadlines, Canadians burned by the news of delays have started viewing vaccine rollout promises with skepticism.
“They’re skeptical right at the moment about any promises that are being made about vaccines – how many and when. They’re just not really believing a lot of it right now,” Bricker said.
This skepticism is complemented by disappointment in the vaccine rollout.
“In fact, there’s only about six per cent say that (the vaccine rollout is) actually exceeding their expectations. Most people, actually a plurality of people, about 44 per cent, are actually saying that it’s not living up to their expectations and it’s going worse than they expected,” Bricker said.
“And by the way, their expectations were not that high to begin with.”
All of this has created a “volatile situation” when it comes to vaccines, Bricker said. A key driver of the issue is the fact that Canadians can see the news of rapid vaccination progress in other countries around the world, which puts even more pressure on the government to deliver.
“Canada is not hermetically sealed when it comes to news. So people are seeing what’s happening in other places,” Bricker said.
“The government set those expectations, but even meeting them would not necessarily be seen as a positive performance because other things are happening in other places that are suggesting the timeline should be shorter.”
Meanwhile, the prime minister’s approval rating has even taken a hit as a result of vaccine rollout troubles. Trudeau’s approval rating has slipped by six points, with 54 per cent saying they either approve “strongly” or “somewhat” of his overall response to the pandemic.
This is “directly attributable” to what’s been happening with the vaccine rollout, Bricker said.
However, it’s not all bad news for Trudeau’s team – even if these latest polling figures make the possibility of forming a majority government in any springtime election a distant daydream.
“Fifty per cent for any prime minister at any time is actually a really good performance level. I mean, going into the last election campaign, Justin Trudeau was tracking in the high 30s and low 40s. So his numbers in terms of approval are actually reasonably good,” Bricker said.
Still, the latest batch of polling makes it “very unlikely” that the Liberals are thinking of triggering an election any time soon, according to Bricker.
“The only thing that makes it worthwhile is if they win a majority,” Bricker said.
“The performance numbers that our polling is really pointing out shows that it would be very risky for them to be contemplating an election campaign in the near term.”
And any shot the Liberals have of securing the electoral support to win a majority in a future election hinges on the next few months of vaccine rollout, he added.
“The election was always going to be contingent on us getting through this pandemic,” Bricker said.
“And the longer that this goes on… the more it becomes focused on the area that is the principal responsibility at the moment for the federal government, which is obtaining vaccines.”
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 February 8-10, 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