There is no simple answer to the question “How has the pandemic impacted Canadians’ sense of wellbeing?”. From the beginning of the pandemic, direct measures show our overall satisfaction with life is stable as financial confidence grows, but some measures of health wellbeing have declined.
Today, INNOVATIVE is releasing results from a new online survey conducted from May 18th to May 26th, 2021, with a weighted sample size of 2,000 Canadian residents. INNOVATIVE has tracked both direct measures of wellbeing as well as Canadians’ perceptions of the impact of COVID on different elements of wellbeing.
When we ask Canadians directly about how satisfied they are with their life as a whole, the numbers today are almost exactly where they were in March of 2020. But when Canadians are asked about their perceptions of the impact of COVID-19 on their overall quality of life, more than a third (35%) say they have experienced a significant negative impact.
Assessments of personal health have dropped significantly in this wave. The perception of the impact of COVID-19 on physical health dropped in the previous wave of tracking and only moved directionally this wave.
Assessments of stress and mental health are following different patterns. Canadians are less stressed in their daily lives today than they were at the start of the pandemic, but self-assessments of mental health have been down significantly this spring from last spring. Perceptions of the impact of COVID-19 on personal mental health have also been higher this spring with a third (33%) reporting a significant negative impact.
One bright light in healthcare is the Medicare “brand” tracker. There is a nine-point jump since February in the number of people who believe they can get the health care they need if they have a serious medical problem. This may be more of a reflection on the gratitude Canadians feel for frontline workers rather than a rational assessment of the capacity of the healthcare system as it emerges from the crisis. But given the experiences in countries like Italy, there was no guarantee at the start of the pandemic that Canadians’ faith in the Medicare brand would emerge unscathed.
The continuing surprise of the pandemic has been financial wellbeing. The current survey shows the highest level of personal financial confidence recorded since 2008. This is an area where the direct measures of confidence and the perceived impact are generally aligned. Perceptions of employer viability and confidence in finding another job if needed are also higher now than at the start of the pandemic, but not at the same record highs as personal financial confidence. Other elements of this survey show many Canadians report direct negative economic impacts from COVID-19, so it seems likely the strong levels of personal economic confidence are a result of the government’s personal economic supports.
As Canadians prepare for life after COVID, they do so confident in their financial prospects but diminished in their physical and mental wellbeing.