Canadians are eager to return to some version of “normal” after two years of living through the COVID-19 pandemic, but a new poll finds mixed opinions on how to achieve that.
The Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News did find some consensus, with two-thirds of Canadians saying governments aren’t doing enough to get the country back to normal — even if they can’t agree what politicians should be doing.
“Even though we’re saying that we want to get back to something that resembles a normal life, we’re still pretty tentative,” said Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs.
“The thing that they’re really saying to us at the moment is they still believe that there is a significant risk out there, particularly with the Omicron variant.”
While one in five Canadians surveyed said they already feel like life is returning to normal, an equal number said they’re not sure if they will ever feel comfortable living without masks or vaccine mandates for businesses and workplaces.
“I would say that where (Canadians) are right now is on fairly thin ice,” Bricker said. “They feel like the ice is thickening up a bit, but still not enough to just kind of run out there into the middle of the lake.”
The poll, which surveyed over 1,000 Canadians across the country last weekend, comes as a convoy of truckers descends on Ottawa to protest vaccine mandates and other public health measures.
Yet the results show a strong majority supports the underlying reasons for those mandates, with 71 per cent agreeing that “we need to slow the spread of Omicron to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed” — even if that prolongs restrictions.
The number rose to 83 per cent among older Canadians aged 55 and up, with 60 per cent or more of younger age groups agreeing.
An even stronger majority — 81 per cent — said the top priority should be to ensure that hospital intensive care units are not overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients, rising to 87 per cent of older Canadians.
How to protect those hospitals appears to still be up for debate, with not even a majority of Canadians supporting mandatory vaccinations as a way to end the pandemic.
The poll found just 38 per cent of those surveyed think mandatory vaccinations would be the best solution, while border closures and rapid tests in the workplace each garnered 14 per cent support.
Even fewer Canadians who answered the poll supported more extreme measures. Ten per cent said allowing COVID-19 to spread through the community would be most effective, while nine per cent said they would support penalties for unvaccinated people like Quebec’s proposed health tax.
Just eight per cent said all non-essential businesses should be shuttered to stop the spread of the virus.
“What we’re finding … is opinions that were pretty solid even six weeks ago are starting to get a lot more, I would say, loose,” Bricker said. “The consensus that we had previously about what we should be doing in all of this is not as strong as it once was.”
The sentiment that governments aren’t doing enough to get the country back to normal was most strongly felt in Alberta, with 73 per cent of poll respondents there agreeing.
That compared to roughly 69 per cent in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and British Columbia, with just over half of those surveyed in Quebec and the Atlantic provinces saying the same.
Bricker didn’t mention the trucker convoy, but suggested Saturday’s protest won’t be the last call on governments to address the growing fatigue and frustration over COVID-19 measures.
“They’re really holding the governments to account, to try and find a way to get us back to normal,” he said.
“And I think over the space of the next four weeks, we’re really going to start seeing some pushes on governments to start to make some moves.”
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.