OTTAWA — A new poll suggests a majority of Canadians support the idea of a lockdown on non-essential businesses and services during the holidays to fight a surge in new COVID-19 cases across the country.
Sixty-five per cent of respondents in the poll conducted by Léger and the Association for Canadian Studies said they supported a general lockdown in their province during Christmas and New Year’s to tackle the pandemic versus 29 per cent who opposed the idea.
Léger executive vice-president Christian Bourque expressed surprise at the seemingly strong support, which was largely the same no matter the respondent’s age or where in Canada they lived.
"I expected it to be a 50-50 type thing because we're already under some pretty severe restrictions as it is," Bourque said. "With the holidays coming up, Canadians are basically saying: ‘Buckle up. There's a few weeks left.’ "
To that end, 51 per cent respondents believed the worst of the pandemic is currently upon the country while 29 per cent felt it is yet to come. Only 10 per cent felt the worst had past and a similar number did not know.
Those numbers perhaps reflect the continuing surge in cases, including in parts of the country that were previously almost untouched. They also coincide with new modelling from the Public Health Agency of Canada suggesting the country could top 575,000 cases and nearly 15,000 deaths by Christmas.
Despite the surge, Bourque said he would have expected the arrival of the first Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccine and the start of a mass-vaccination campaign this week to have created more of a sense of optimism.
"But people are saying: 'We're not there yet,' " he said.
At the same time, despite the excitement surrounding the arrival of those Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses, attitudes around getting inoculated remained largely unchanged.
Sixty-six per cent of respondents said they planned to get a shot when it becomes available to them, which was roughly the same as when the pollsters asked the same question in previous weeks. Sixteen per cent said they had no plans to get a vaccine while 18 per cent did not know.
That suggests some continued hesitancy when it comes to the vaccine.
Similarly, 31 per cent said they would take the first vaccine that becomes available while 44 per cent want to wait until others are on offer, which was similar to previous weeks. Twelve per cent had no plans to get vaccinated and 14 per cent did not know.
The poll of 1,528 adult Canadians in an online panel was conducted from Dec. 11 to Dec. 13 and cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 15, 2020.