A majority of Canadians feel the second holiday season spent under the cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic will be better than the first, a new poll suggests — though many will still be taking steps to keep themselves safe.
The Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News found 66 per cent of people who responded were optimistic about the coming holidays compared to 2020, though only 44 per cent said this season will feel “normal” again.
The optimism may be linked to people’s willingness to gather with family and friends again. But while the poll suggests seven out of 10 Canadians will open their homes to loved ones this year, it also shows Canadians are taking precautions: 54 per cent said they will ask people about their vaccination status before allowing them inside.
“What this is showing is that people are enthusiastic because they feel more confident in their ability to manage their environment and to manage people coming in and out of their homes, mainly due to vaccines,” said Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs.
There’s also a divide among Canadians who want to see more friends and family: 33 per cent said they will do so freely without capacity limits, while 38 per cent said they will only get together with extended family members.
As for what those larger groups will get up to, only 36 per cent agreed they are ready to let loose with their usual holiday traditions this year.
That number fell to 21 per cent among older Canadians aged 55 and over, 70 per cent of whom also said they will ask their family and friends about their vaccination status.
The poll surveyed over 1,000 Canadians from across the country online earlier this month.
It also suggests women are voicing more caution around the holidays than men. While 39 per cent of men who responded said they plan to gather freely with friends and family, just 28 per cent of women said they same.
Overall, Canadians’ continued caution around the holidays reflects a trend that’s been seen throughout the pandemic, Bricker says.
“Canadians have actually had a pretty orderly approach to managing the vaccine and managing the COVID pandemic,” he said.
“The interesting part is that they’re not only incorporating what they’re being asked to do into how they behave themselves, they’re using it as a mechanism to be able to manage their wider social interactions.”
Optimism about the holidays also differs across the country. Quebec saw the most people agree this year will be better than 2020, with 71 per cent support.
The poll also suggests 77 per cent of Quebecers want to gather with family and friends again in some form — likely a sign respondents remember the strict circuit breaker measures in place last winter that prevented similar gatherings.
“If you want to go have a good time and visit family and friends this holiday season, Quebec’s a pretty good place to go,” Bricker said.
Saskatchewan and Manitoba saw the least agreement that this holiday will be better, with just 57 per cent saying so, a possible reflection of the ongoing strain on the health-care systems in those provinces due to COVID-19.
Worried about spending
Canadians may be looking forward to the holidays more, but the poll suggests that confidence dips when asked about holiday spending.
Forty per cent of respondents said they are concerned about getting in over their heads financially, a number that rises to 57 per cent among Canadians aged 18 to 34.
Additionally, nearly half of those surveyed (46 per cent) said they are concerned they may not have enough money to buy holiday gifts for family or loved ones. Twenty per said they are “very concerned.”
The poll also suggests half of Canadians will be cautious about how much they spend on gifts and gatherings this year and will spend less than usual. Just six per cent said they will be going “all out” and spend more.
“It’s not surprising because all the research that we’re doing right now is showing that inflation is skyrocketing as an issue … (and) the people who are most concerned about it in the Canadian population are younger Canadians,” Bricker said.
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between November 12 and 15, 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.