Cases of COVID-19 are surging among the unvaccinated and as Canadians prepare to head to the polls in an anticipated fall election, new polling suggests most people are worried about a potential fourth wave.
Polling by Ipsos done exclusively for Global News shows 81 per cent of respondents reported feeling worried that the spread of new variants will delay things getting back to normal. Sixty-nine per cent also reported concerns about the potential for a fourth wave, with those fears lowest in Alberta and Quebec.
Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs, said the numbers suggest Canadians are bracing themselves.
“They feel at the moment that we are on the precipice of potentially going into more difficult circumstances,” he told Global News, noting 62 per cent also said they believe vaccines will mitigate the impact of any future surge.
“The way I would best describe it is that people right now are preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best.”
The rapid spread of more contagious variants of COVID-19 has led to roaring spikes in cases among unvaccinated people in the United States in recent weeks, prompting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to re-introduce guidance advising vaccinated people to wear masks indoors.
In B.C. as well, rising cases among the unvaccinated led officials to announce they are targeting one million unvaccinated residents to try to limit the spread and potential overload of the health system.
“The reality is that with the Delta variant and other variants of concern out there, it is likely that we will see a rise in cases over the coming months,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday.
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At the same time, speculation is rampant that Trudeau will soon pull the plug on the minority government he has led since October 2019 and force Canadians back out to the polls.
Citing sources, Reuters reported on Wednesday that Trudeau is eyeing September for an election.
But even as concerns remain about the potential for a fourth wave, polling suggests Canadians’ levels of concern are shifting to include a broader range of issues beyond COVID-19.
In the polling released on Tuesday, 49 per cent of Canadians said recent extreme weather events like the wildfires blazing across B.C. and northern Ontario have made them feel more strongly about the need to fight climate change, with young Canadians and those with university degrees most inclined to agree.
Young Canadians in particular are a key voting bloc that political parties will be trying to motivate to get out to the polls, but Bricker said it remains to be seen what shifting priorities or a surge in COVID-19 cases could mean for a federal election this fall.
He pointed to climate change as well as growing demands to act on inequality and injustice.
“Those issues have started to come up and as they come up, the Liberal’s prospects about getting reelected become a little more challenged because they’re not seen as performing necessarily well on those issues,” he said.
Bricker added the government has high approval numbers on its handling of the pandemic and would likely see a bump in support if it had to campaign primarily on the COVID-19 response.
“It’s a real wild card,” he said.
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 July 19 and 20, 2021, with a sample of 1,000 Canadians aged 18 and over . 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.