A majority of Canadians continue to support mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for workers who interact with the public, a new poll suggests, as well as vaccination requirements for those returning to their offices.
The Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News found that while support dipped slightly for return-to-office mandates — earning 65 per cent support, compared to 74 per cent for mandatory vaccines for nurses, servers and other public-facing workers — the idea remains popular across the country.
“People feel that one way to make sure that they’re protected when they deal with people who are are facing them in some of these occupations, is to make sure that they are vaccinated,” said Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs.
The results were released after a number of large protests against vaccine mandates were held this week in British Columbia, which has announced policies allowing only vaccinated residents to access many services and industries. But Bricker says those protesters likely don’t speak for the country.
“It doesn’t take an awful lot of people to look like a big crowd,” he said. “But that doesn’t represent the vast majority of the Canadian population.”
Bricker said support for return-to-office mandates may be lower because not all Canadians work in offices. But he added the support is still strong enough that employers should take notice.
“This is going to put an awful lot of pressure on employers … not only to find a way to get their employees vaccinated, but also to ensure that they have been vaccinated (before returning to work),” he said.
Ipsos surveyed over 1,500 Canadians online last weekend, asking not just about vaccine mandates but also the reopening of the Canada-U.S. border, as well as what the federal government should focus on in the post-pandemic economy.
The results offer a potential roadmap for the parties vying for votes in the federal election campaign, which is reaching the halfway point.
While Canadians are split among many potential solutions to getting the economy back on track, the poll suggests mandatory vaccines are popular with voters of all parties — even Conservatives, despite party leader Erin O’Toole saying he would not mandate shots if elected prime minister.
Seventy per cent of Conservative voters said they want public-facing workers to be vaccinated, while 65 per cent support return-to-office vaccine mandates. Although lower than the support among Liberal and NDP voters, Tory support outstripped that of Bloc Quebecois and Green Party voters.
Support for federal vaccine passports has dipped to 65 per cent nationally, with regional differences playing a role. Nearly 80 per cent of British Columbians surveyed said they support the measure, compared to just 55 per cent in the Atlantic provinces and 59 per cent in Quebec.
Two-thirds of voters in the Prairie provinces said federal vaccine passports are a good idea, despite provincial politicians vowing to not introduce them.
“There’s a range for action here,” Bricker said. “The space (governments) have to get more aggressive in terms of requiring passports and making vaccines mandatory, there’s a fair amount of public support for that.”
Many think U.S.-Canada border reopened too soon
The poll also found 66 per cent of Canadians agree that Canada should have waited to reopen its border with the United States to allow fully vaccinated travellers. The border rules were eased in early August.
Only 18 per cent said the border should have been reopened sooner.
Nearly 40 per cent of those surveyed said Canada should be doing more to push the U.S. to do the same, and allow vaccinated Canadians into the country.
While Bricker says Canadians still feel that COVID-19 remains a serious problem in the U.S. — with cases rising at a faster rate than in Canada — he also points to the 61 per cent of respondents who “unbelievably” believe Canada’s economy can thrive even with the border closed.
“Anybody who knows anything about international trade and the importance of the cross border traffic to the U.S. and Canada knows that that’s not true,” Bricker said.”
Tax cuts, affordability top of mind for voters
As for Canada’s post-pandemic future, the poll found that Canadians have several ideas for how to get the economy moving again — although the most popular ideas come from all corners of the ideological spectrum.
Thirty-nine per cent of Canadians surveyed said they want income taxes lowered, while 37 per cent said they want affordability issues like the housing crisis addressed.
After those two, however, the most popular choice was for a universal basic income, which was supported by 26 per cent of respondents. Twenty-four per cent said they want tax relief for small businesses.
“Basically everything that we’ve looked at is cost of living,” said Bricker.
“What we see in terms of the things that people are really focused on is what I would call ‘kitchen table economics,’ and things that are affecting them in their own households.”
That meant ideas like lowering corporate taxes and rental assistance for businesses gained the least amount of support, with less than 10 per cent for each.
While older voters tended to support priorities like eliminating the budget deficit and small business tax relief more than younger voters, millennials appeared more attracted to affordability issues and increased income assistance.
Among the overall top priorities, NDP voters came out strongly for things like affordability and universal basic income, while Conservatives opted for lower income taxes and balancing the budget.
That left Liberal voters in the middle on many issues, which Bricker says is hurting them amid the election campaign.
“It leaves the Liberals kind of stuck in between both of those positions,” he said. “So it’s pretty difficult at the moment for the Liberal Party to differentiate itself on economics.”
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between August 27 and 30, on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a sample of n = 1,501 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed online, via the Ipsos I-Say panel and non-panel sources. 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/