Canadians are losing confidence in government leaders and their response to the Omicron variant-fuelled COVID-19 wave, a new poll suggests, with support for lockdowns dipping to their lowest point since the pandemic began.
The Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News found only 49 per cent of Canadians approve of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s response to the latest surge in cases and hospitalizations. Nationally, support for Canada’s premiers has dipped five points since December, to 52 per cent.
Canadians’ tolerance for lockdowns has dropped even further, with just 52 per cent of those surveyed saying they support lockdowns for as long as it takes to get Omicron under control. That pales in comparison to July, when Ipsos found more than two-thirds of Canadians would support another lockdown in the event of another COVID-19 wave.
“This isn’t just pandemic fatigue, it’s pandemic frustration,” said Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs.
“When this pandemic started a couple of years ago, there was really this sense that we were all in it together. … Now, that sense that (Canadians) were rallying behind our political leadership has definitely declined.”
Ipsos surveyed over 1,000 Canadian adults online last week for the poll.
Trudeau’s support was highest in Atlantic Canada and Quebec at 72 per cent and 60 per cent respectively, while cooling to around half of respondents in most other provinces. Only 33 per cent of Albertans approve of Trudeau’s handling of Omicron, the poll suggests.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault continues to have the highest approval of all premiers, but his 66 per cent support is down nine points from last month — the biggest drop among provincial leaders.
Support for Ontario Premier Doug Ford and British Columbia Premier John Horgan both dropped six points, to 46 per cent and 57 per cent respectively, while Alberta Premier Jason Kenney remains the least-liked premier at 34 per cent support, up one point.
“Both the provincial and federal governments are seen as doing an inadequate job by the people of Alberta,” Bricker noted.
Overall, Canadians were evenly split when asked if their province’s response to Omicron was too little, too much or about right, with one third of respondents agreeing with each statement.
Just over half of those surveyed in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba said their provinces were doing too little, however, reflecting those governments’ general hesitation to impose strict health measures.
Conversely, respondents in Quebec — where a nighttime curfew and other harsh restrictions were put in place to try and curb hospitalizations — 46 per cent said the measures were too much.
Bricker says the premiers’ approval ratings, which largely went up during the first couple of waves of the pandemic, have now fallen back to where they were before COVID-19 emerged, suggesting people are no longer all-consumed by government’s public health response.
“What’s happened is that people are either thinking that this (pandemic) will be going on for a long time and that we’re going to have to learn to live with it, or they have just checked out from evaluating it anymore,” Bricker said. “It’s just being factored into the way that they’re living their lives.”
Younger Canadians aged 18 to 34 who responded to the poll were more likely to say their provinces were doing too much to combat Omicron, with 41 per cent agreeing. The same percentage of older Canadians aged 55 and over said their provinces were doing too little, higher than other age groups.
Among the 52 per cent who said they support lockdowns to fight Omicron, more men (55 per cent) than women (49 per cent) agreed with the measure. Older Canadians over 55 were more supportive than other age groups, with 56 per cent saying so.
The poll also found half of Canadians disagree that governments are providing adequate support for businesses that have had to lock down. Among those who said those supports are adequate, only 10 per cent strongly agreed.
The one issue most Canadians agreed on in the survey was that provincial health-care systems need more funding to increase capacity and restart elective surgeries that were paused due to Omicron, with 88 per cent saying it was necessary.
“People are saying, if you can fund anything, get it into hospitals because this pandemic has definitely caused problems there,” Bricker said.
“We’re prepared to get behind that. But things like pandemic shutdowns, that’s a tougher fight than it was previously.”
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between January 14 and 17, 2022, on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a sample of 1,001 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed online via the Ipsos I-Say Panel and non-panel sources. 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.