Canadians are divided on when COVID-19 vaccine mandates should be lifted for various activities, a new poll suggests, with no clear consensus on when life should return to the way it was before the pandemic.
The Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News found the number of Canadians who want to wait longer for those mandates to end is higher than those who want them gone immediately — but not by much.
“Canadians are, I would say, fairly tentative about how they’re looking at the next period of time,” said Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs.
“Yes, there are people who want to go right away, but an awful lot of us just are really taking our time.”
The poll — which surveyed over 1,000 Canadians earlier this month online — asked if mandates should be lifted this year, sometime next year, 2023 at the earliest, or not until an external factor like COVID-19 cases becoming negligible or the World Health Organization declaring the pandemic over.
Respondents were asked to make one of those choices for several activities, including air and train travel, dining at a restaurant or watching a movie in a theatre, entering the workplace, and working in a hospital or long-term care facility.
While anywhere between 22 and 35 per cent of those surveyed said they want mandates gone by the end of the year or earlier for those activities, 28 to 34 per cent said either sometime in 2022 or not until at least 2023. Between 36 and 47 per cent, meanwhile, chose an external factor, depending on the activity.
Bricker notes that more people were comfortable lifting mandates quickly for activities they may have already experienced themselves, like dining out or working at the office.
The poll found far less support for ending vaccine requirements for travellers and health-care workers, both of which saw about a quarter of Canadians agree they shouldn’t be lifted until the pandemic reaches some sort of end point. Those numbers were higher than those for any other answer to any other activity.
“It’s being driven by people’s familiarity with the activity,” Bricker said. “People are experimenting with (dining out and in-office work) right now, they see what the experience is.”
As has been the case throughout the pandemic, younger Canadians who responded to Ipsos voiced less caution about vaccine requirements than older respondents. Women also proved to be more cautious than men, continuing another COVID-19 trend.
Millennials aged 18-34 were generally more eager to lift mandates this year compared to Canadians aged 55 and over, who tended to say they want to wait until infection rates have fallen. The gap between the two ranged from nine to 19 points depending on the activity.
“They probably still feel that this isn’t something that’s going to affect them,” Bricker said of younger Canadians who responded.
“That doesn’t mean it’s universal. There still are an awful lot of young Canadians who are reluctant, but compared to older Canadians, they’re certainly more open about going out and trying things.”
Women, meanwhile, predominantly said they want to wait until the WHO declares the pandemic over — often by around 10 points over men.
Every province and territory now has some form of vaccine mandate for many businesses, while legislatures and the House of Commons have also required members to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Vaccinations are also required for federally mandated travel and in many workplaces, including in the federal public sector.
The poll found COVID-19 remains an issue that is top of mind for Canadians, with 27 per cent rating it a top two priority for MPs to focus on.
Over 60 per cent said they are at least somewhat confident that the new federal government, which began its first session since the September election this week, will make significant progress on emerging from the pandemic.
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between November 12 and 15, 2021, 2021, on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a sample of 1,001 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed. 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.