The holiday season saw Canadians more actively reengaging with riskier social behaviours, even compared to the week immediately before Christmas. Not only were Canadians more likely to visit with friends and family or small groups inside their homes, but they were also a little less likely to take precautions while doing so.
These are the findings from INNOVATIVE’s Canada This Month survey, in field from December 30th, 2021, to January 5th, 2022, with a sample size of 1,316 Canadian residents. A detailed methodology is provided in the report appendix.
Not surprisingly, Canadians reengaged socially in late December by visiting a relative or friend in their home (61%) and gathering with small groups inside a home (45%). Visits in the home were up 8-points from the last wave (Dec 16-22) and were the highest since tracking began in March 2020. Similarly, small gatherings in the home were up 9-points since the last wave now standing at 45%, the highest since tracking began. This reengagement is not uniform across Canada, however. Most re-engagement with “more” risk activities was in BC, AB, and ON, while Quebec was more stable.
One area where risky behaviour declined, perhaps in combination with provincial COVID restrictions, was the 6-point drop in respondents who reported attending a large (50+ person) gathering.
In addition to tracking how much risk Canadians are undertaking, we also track the precautions they take. Unfortunately, at the same time Canadians increased their riskier behaviours, they also slightly reduced their precautions which were already down from the peak we saw last spring. The key declines were in “avoiding touching my face” (down 5-points from before the holidays) and keeping a distance of 2 meters apart when out of my home (down 6-points from earlier in December). Some of this decline may be because the increased social contact was mostly among friends and family.
The combination of more risky behaviour with fewer personal precautions likely contributed to the tougher restrictions Canadians are now seeing from their governments.