Majority of Canadians anticipate another lost summer due to COVID-19 restrictions: poll

Click to play video: 'Majority of Canadians anticipate COVID-19 restrictions to result in another lost summer, poll shows'
Majority of Canadians anticipate COVID-19 restrictions to result in another lost summer, poll shows
WATCH: Majority of Canadians anticipate COVID-19 restrictions to result in another lost summer, poll shows – May 20, 2021

A majority of Canadians believe this summer will be another disappointment as COVID-19 restrictions are set to remain in place despite increased vaccinations, a new poll suggests.

The Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News found seven in 10 Canadians are anticipating a second lost summer. Yet 61 per cent of those who responded to the poll also said they believe this summer will be better than last year’s, when vaccines were still far from becoming a reality.

The poll — which surveyed over 1,000 people online last week — further underscores that Canadians recognize the pandemic is far from over, says Sean Simpson, vice-president of public affairs for Ipsos.

“I think Canadians are still very realistic that even though the vaccine situation is getting better and and we just received millions of doses this week, it’s still going to take quite some time to get those vaccines into people’s arms,” he said.

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“As such, we’re just not going to be able to reopen the economy, travel and other leisure activities to the extent that Canadians might hope.”

The poll found that some provinces are more pessimistic than others. Three-quarters of Canadians living in Ontario and the Atlantic provinces said this summer will be disappointing, while Quebec saw the lowest number at 62 per cent.

Quebec also saw the highest share of residents say this summer will be an improvement over the last, at 75 per cent, compared to 54 per cent in Ontario and 53 per cent in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

While Quebec is promising a reopening and lifting of restrictions by the end of May, the Prairie provinces and Ontario are still contending with a third wave of the virus, and hospitalizations remain high. Lockdowns have also been extended in Ontario and some Atlantic provinces recently.

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Unsurprisingly, Canadians who are vaccinated were more optimistic about the summer, with 67 per cent saying it will be a disappointment compared to 74 per cent of unvaccinated Canadians.

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Most Canadians hesitant to travel, attend events

The poll found only one in four Canadians plan on travelling outside their province this summer, with only 15 per cent looking to travel internationally.

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Only a quarter of respondents said it would be safe to finally reopen the Canada-U.S. border to non-essential travel.

Hesitation around both indoor and outdoor public events also remains high, the poll suggests. Less than half of Canadians — 45 per cent — said they would feel safe attending an outdoor event or festival this summer, while that number drops to 28 per cent for those who would attend a similar event indoors.

Men and younger Canadians aged 18 to 34 were more eager to travel within and outside Canada and attend both indoor and outdoor events, according to the poll.

But Simpson says just because those respondents want to do those things this summer doesn’t necessarily mean they will.

“The vast majority of Canadians are still quite cautious and hesitant,” he said.

“Even though younger people are eager to re-engage, a majority of them are also saying, ‘You know what, I’m prepared to sit on the sidelines for a little while longer, even though that may disappoint me this summer.'”

The eagerness of younger Canadians to return to normal may explain why more non-vaccinated people said they felt safe attending indoor and outdoor events than vaccinated people, who are still trending older, Simpson says.

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The data also hasn’t changed much from when Ipsos has previously asked Canadians about their willingness to travel or attend events, suggesting that vaccinations aren’t necessarily leading to more optimism about the future.

“It’s not about vaccine status, it’s about age,” he said. “Younger people are still waiting for their vaccines, and yet some of them do want to re-engage with some of their normal activities sooner rather than later.”

Overall, Simpson says even as frustration over another lost summer builds, Canadians will still follow public health restrictions so long as it helps reduce COVID-19 transmission.

“Even though we hate lockdowns, we generally support them,” he said.

“There’s many things I would like to do and maybe even consider doing if the circumstances are right. But I think the vast majority of Canadians acknowledge that the circumstances aren’t right yet.”

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These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between May 12th and 14th, 2021, on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a sample of 1,001 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed online. Quotas and weighting were employed to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the Canadian population according to census parameters. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ± 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians aged 18+ been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

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