With less than 20 per cent of the eligible population still unvaccinated against COVID-19 and concerns around the Omicron variant wave rising in the country, a majority of Canadians are in favour of imposing more restrictions on those who have not gotten the shots yet, according to new polling.
An Ipsos poll published Monday and conducted exclusively for Global News showed that 67 per cent want the government to impose further measures on the unvaccinated population, with nearly half (49 per cent) of the respondents blaming the unvaccinated for prolonging the pandemic – now entering its third year.
This comes as some provinces in the country, like Ontario and British Columbia, are already moving ahead with easing restrictions based on key metrics such as hospitalizations and intensive care admissions.
Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos public affairs, said Canadians have become increasingly polarized when it comes to COVID-19 vaccinations, lockdowns and the pandemic in general.
“What we’ve seen over the space of, particularly Omicron, is that people are becoming more divided,” he told Global News.
Those divisions were made further evident in this latest poll, as 52 per cent said they were in favour of putting a tax on the unvaccinated, while 48 per cent opposed that measure.
Earlier this month, Quebec became the first province in Canada to announce its plan to impose a tax on adults who choose to remain unvaccinated. However, details on those plans are so far slim and other provinces have not endorsed the measure.
“There’s a brewing and growing political controversy over some of the things that governments are doing on vaccines in terms of restrictions and things that they want to do to the public that didn’t exist before,” Bricker.
“So it’s going to make for a pretty rocky spring as we start to move through 2022.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says provinces are “right” to consider ways to encourage and incentivize COVID-19 vaccination.
Trudeau said the federal government will wait for details on Quebec’s proposed health contribution before commenting further.
Older people and those who are more educated were better inclined to the tax policy, said Bricker, but he expects the support will wane over time if the measures start coming into place.
While the tax is unprecedented in Canada, similar measures have been introduced in Europe. Countries like Austria and Germany have also imposed COVID-19 lockdowns specifically targeting their unvaccinated populations.
Over the course of the pandemic, COVID-19 vaccinations and related policies have become a controversial and political issue in the country.
The issue is also affecting relationships, with family members sometimes not in agreement, especially when it comes to vaccinating children.
Ipsos polling showed that Canadians would treat people differently based on their vaccination status.
While 73 per cent said they would welcome a vaccinated person into their home – no questions asked – 39 per cent said they would only invite an unvaccinated person if they took a rapid COVID-19 test.
Meanwhile, one in five (21 per cent) said they would end their friendship with someone who did not see eye to eye with them on COVID-19 vaccines.
“This is a health issue that’s become overwhelmingly political,” said Bricker.
However, most Canadians are generally open to sharing their vaccination status with others, with 89 per cent saying they have voluntarily done so.
As of Sunday, nearly 82 per cent of the eligible population – aged five and above – were fully vaccinated, according to covid19tracker.com.
Half of the poll respondents said there should be other ways to accommodate the unvaccinated, such as through testing and other measures.
The Ipsos poll was 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. 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.