While Canadians are more divided on COVID restrictions, most do not agree the current restrictions are an over-reaction to the new variant and almost half feel governments are doing their best than just reacting to events. These are the findings from INNOVATIVE’s Canada This Month survey, in field from January 6th to 11th, 2022 with a sample size of 1,420 Canadian residents. A detailed methodology is provided in the full report.
Canadians are now more likely to say that the existing restrictions are too tight than they have been throughout the pandemic. In Ontario, more now say that restrictions are too tight than too loose (net +7%), the most since the start of the pandemic. BC also has a higher net score than it has had at any point before during the pandemic (now net -5% too tight).
However, Canadians do not take the further step of saying the current restrictions are an over-reaction given current variant is milder than earlier one. A plurality (48%) of Canadians disagree that the current lockdowns are an overreaction. However, nearly a third agree that because the Omicron variant is milder than previous variants, the current lockdown is an overreaction. Agreement is highest in the Prairies (33%) and Quebec (33%), while it is lowest in Atlantic Canada (23%).
With mixed feelings on restrictions, there are mixed reactions on government approval.
Approval of federal government’s handling of the pandemic is up directionally since the end of December with 42% saying they approve now from a low of 39%. Approval of the Quebec government’s handling of the pandemic has also improved to 60%.
Over the same period, approval of the BC, Alberta, and Ontario provincial governments’ handling of the pandemic has decreased. Now only 32% of Ontarians and 20% of Albertans approve of their government’s management of COVID. A majority (54%) continue to approve of the BC government’s handling of the pandemic, but this is down from 58% in late December.
With all the changes in restrictions, critics increasingly argue that governments are adrift and just reacting to events. But Canadians remain split on whether governments have a plan. Just under half (48%) say that the changing government health policies reflect governments doing their best to respond to the evolving nature of the virus, while 43% say that the health restrictions are a sign that governments do not have a plan. This is almost identical to our findings last April during the third wave of the pandemic. With all the ups and downs of the pandemic, Canadians tend to give their governments the benefit of the doubt.