As mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for travellers and some industries becomes a point of contention amid the federal election campaign, a new poll suggests a strong majority of Canadians support the issue — regardless of their political affiliation.
The Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News found that 80 per cent or more of those surveyed support mandatory vaccines for healthcare workers, teachers and public servants. Just over 80 per cent said requiring proof of vaccination for train or air travellers was also a good idea.
“What the data is showing is that if people think there’s a public debate among Canadians about how one should be dealing with COVID-19 when it comes to vaccines, there really is no debate,” said Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs.
“People think that vaccines should be ubiquitous, and they think that they should be directed and even mandatory.”
The Liberal government announced right before the election was called last weekend that vaccines will be mandatory for federal workers and domestic travellers — a stance that party leader Justin Trudeau, who’s running for his third term as prime minister, doubled down on Wednesday.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has said he would not require any workers to be vaccinated, accusing Trudeau of using the issue as a political “wedge” to divide Canadians. Yet even among likely Conservative voters who responded to the Ipsos poll, about three-quarters supported mandatory vaccinations.
The poll found support for mandatory vaccinations for both healthcare workers and teachers was also high regardless of province, never dipping below 75 per cent (in Quebec, for teachers) and reaching as high as 90 per cent (in the Atlantic provinces, for health care workers).
Support dipped slightly for vaccine passports to be used to enter public spaces like restaurants, but not by much. Seventy-two per cent of all respondents accepted the idea, including 67 per cent of Conservative voters, which Bricker says is still a sign of strong support.
“It’s pretty hard to get 72 per cent of Canadians to agree on anything,” he said.
“When you look at a whole series of other issues that we looked at in this survey … you see a lot of division, a lot of disagreement on the issues. But on vaccines, vaccine passports, not a lot of division.”
COVID-19, health care remain top election issues
Ipsos surveyed over 1,500 Canadians across the country online last weekend on a whole range of election issues, including mandatory vaccinations.
The results show the COVID-19 pandemic remains a top issue for voters, with just over a quarter of respondents saying it’s most important to them. That number is up six points from when the same question was asked just a month ago, before the fourth wave of the pandemic took hold.
Health care topped the list at 31 per cent support, and was selected as the most important issue by voters in all provinces except Alberta, where the economy is seen as the key issue. The economy (25 per cent), climate change (23 per cent) and affordability (23 per cent) rounded out the top five nationally.
As for which party is best equipped to handle those issues, the poll found the Liberals lead the way with the COVID-19 pandemic and health care. Nearly half of those who picked the pandemic as the most important issue said the Liberals would be their party of choice, while 30 per cent said the same for health care.
While the Green Party was unsurprisingly chosen as the best party to deal with climate change, with 32 per cent support, the Liberals weren’t far behind at 30 per cent.
Yet 41 per cent said the Conservatives were seen as the party with the firmest grip on the economy, compared to 33 per cent who chose the Liberals. The NDP, meanwhile, was seen as the party that can best address affordability, at 27 per cent support.
That’s despite 32 per cent of respondents saying the Liberals have the best plan for Canada’s post-pandemic future. No other party — including the Conservatives and NDP — cracked 20 per cent support.
Bricker said those numbers could change, however.
“As we go through this election, we’re going to see other plans, and the question is whether the Liberal plan continues to hold up,” he said, referring to last fall’s economic statement and the federal budget the Trudeau government released earlier this year.
“Right now, the incumbent party … does not have the confidence of Canadians in terms of being able to manage either the affordability questions of kitchen table-type economics or the economy overall. … So this is definitely a challenge to the Trudeau and the Liberals.”
Just over half of Canadians, or 53 per cent, said the Trudeau government has done a good job managing the economy throughout the pandemic, while the rest disapproved.
The division largely fell along party lines, with 93 per cent of Liberal voters agreeing with the government’s economic management while 82 per cent of Conservative voters disapproved.
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between August 13 and 16, on behalf of Global News. A sample of n = 1,501 was interviewed online, via the Ipsos I-Say panel and non-panel sources, and respondents earn a nominal incentive for their participation. Quotas and weighting were employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos polls which include non-probability sampling is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ± 2.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians 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. Ipsos abides by the disclosure standards established by the CRIC, found here: https://canadianresearchinsightscouncil.ca/standards/