Ontarians are not happy with the latest wave of COVID restrictions in Ontario. Only 32% of Ontarians now say they approve of how the Ontario government is handling COVID-19, while half (50%) disapprove including 28% who strongly disapprove. These are the findings from INNOVATIVE’s Canada This Month survey, in field from January 6th to 11th, 2022 with a sample size of 516 Ontarian residents. A detailed methodology is provided in the report.
Approval of the Ontario government’s handling of the pandemic has continued to slide from a high of 44% in September to only 32%, the lowest it has been since April. This is driven by a big increase in the amount of attention Ontarians are paying to their government – now 64% report hearing something about Doug Ford in the last few days, up from only 53% last week – and they don’t like what they are hearing.
The stories most frequently mentioned by those who have heard anything are the new restrictions added (28%) and the school closures (22%), both of which elicited a strongly negative reaction from the public. Of those who mentioned the new restrictions, 47% were left feeling less favourably towards the government, while among those who mentioned schools 50% were left feeling less favourably.
These latest changes have impacted Doug Ford’s personal favourability but have yet to have a significant impact on the share of Ontarians who would vote for the PCs. Only 29% of Ontarians now say Ford is the best choice for Premier, down directionally from 31% in December. Additionally, Ford’s favourability has fallen 7-points from 35% with a favourable impression in December to only 28% now. Despite these declines, the PCs (35%) remain in a tight race with the Ontario Liberals (36%) among decided voters.
Ultimately, while the PCs have managed to remain competitive, the reaction to the latest wave of restrictions and lockdowns has left Ford’s personal brand weakened and could lead to future problems for the party as a whole.