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Majority of Canadians Still Want COVID Pandemic Restrictions to Stay as Measures Lift: Poll

Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.
Published: March 16, 2022
Canadians, mostly Liberal and NDP voters, want pandemic restrictions to remain indefinitely and will continue to practice them on their own, a new survey says.
Pandemic mandate sign at Lake Louise Ski Resort in Alberta, Canada on November 28, 2021. A new survey by the Angus Reid Institute found that most Canadians want pandemic restrictions to remain and will continue to practice them on their own, even as government mandates are lifted. (Image: PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

As government mandates claiming to protect the nation from Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) have slowly vanished throughout Canada, a majority of Canadians remain attached to social distancing, wearing a cloth mask, hand washing, and mandatory vaccination, according to a recent poll. 

Published March 15 by the Angus Reid Institute (ARI), 2,550 Canadians were surveyed on the Institute’s online forum between March 1 and 4. ARI notes that the study was “conducted in partnership” and “paid for jointly” by federal state-funded messaging outlet Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 

In response to the question: “What describes your own feelings about the removal of restrictions in your Province,“ all 2,550 respondents were polarized between voting for “at the right time” and “too quickly” with 38 and 36 percent respectively.

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Takers from British Columbia (287 individuals) were the most apt to say they felt restrictions were being removed at the right time with 49 percent, while Manitobans (162 individuals) were most likely to feel measures are leaving too quickly at 44 percent.

Manitoba dumped vaccine passports and mask mandates on March 15, two weeks after ARI collected survey data, while British Columbia finally let go of mandatory masking on March 11 and will give up vaccine passports on April 8. 

But when the ARI asked respondents whether they supported certain measures regardless of whether they were eliminated by their local governments, sentiment revealed itself to be much sharper. 

Among all 2,550 respondents, 73 percent said they still “support” or “strongly support” indoor masking, 70 percent still wanted vaccine mandates for cross border travel, and 64 percent wish to keep domestic vaccine passports in place.

Mandatory masking and vaccine passport support was the highest in BC and Atlantic Canada (299 individuals) at 81 percent and 71 percent respectively.

Notably, when broken down by political party affiliation, those connected to Canada’s socialist parties were overwhelmingly supportive of maintaining mandates. For Liberal Party (709 individuals) and NDP (385 individuals) voters, 92 percent wished to keep masks and 85 to 89 percent wished to keep vaccine passports.

By comparison, the percentage fell to 56 and 43 percent among Conservative Party voters (729), and absolutely cratered with supporters of the growing populist People’s Party (109 individuals) at only 12 and 5 percent.

Although the PPC did not win any seats in the October of 2021 Federal Election, it nonetheless saw an exponential rise in support after campaigning on a platform of supporting Canadian values and opposing vaccine mandates, mandatory masking edicts, and lockdowns.

According to Global News, Canada’s purple-colored party increased its share of the popular vote from 292,703 votes amounting to only 1.6 percent during the 2019 election cycle to 833,372 votes amounting to 5.1 percent in October.

The survey also asked Canadians if they would personally continue personal pandemic practices despite the relaxation of government mandates.

The majority of all respondents voted in the affirmative. 64 percent said they would continue to judiciously wash and sanitize their hands, 60 percent will continue to practice social distancing, 53 percent will still isolate themselves from social gatherings, and 50 percent are still attached to masking. 

Broken down by political affiliation, a sharp contrast between socialist party supporters and conservative and populist party supporters was once again demonstrated.

While 75 percent of Liberal Party affiliates stated they would continue to wash, sanitize and social distance and 70 percent said they would continue to wear a mask, the portion fell to 57, 45, and 32 percent among Conservative Party voters and 24, 15, and 6 percent among People’s Party supporters.