Canadians aren't going 'back to normal' this Christmas: poll

More people will see family and go to parties than last year, but we're still not back to pre-pandemic levels, according to an Angus Reid poll.

Maija Kappler 3 minute read December 6, 2021
Christmas dinner COVID

More Canadians will be having holiday dinners in person than last year, but things aren't quite back to normal. (Getty)

More Canadians plan to celebrate the holidays in person than last year — but that number is still significantly less than pre-pandemic levels. And most Canadians will only spend time with people who are fully vaccinated.

An Angus Reid poll released Monday looked at our attitudes towards COVID risks as the holiday season approaches and found that most people — 73 per cent — fear that their friends or family might get sick. The people who are most afraid of getting sick themselves are older Canadians: two-thirds of people 55 and older said they’re worried about contracting COVID. They’re also the age group who are the least likely to go to a family dinner, or visit with local friends.

Most Canadians will have a family dinner to celebrate the holidays, though: 80 per cent, to be precise. That’s 22 per cent more than last year, but still eight per cent less than 2019.

Some things are dramatically less likely this year than two years ago: the number of people going to a work party this year is less than half of the 2019 rate (24 per cent this year, 20 per cent two years ago). And only 28 per cent of people will visit family or friends in another province, compared to 51 per cent the winter before the pandemic.

Courtesy of Angus Reid

Courtesy of Angus Reid

Three in five Canadians (61 per cent) say they only plan to see people over the holidays who are fully vaccinated, and another one in five (19 per cent) say most of the people they visit with will be vaccinated. People in the Atlantic provinces are most likely to opt for an exclusively vaccinated holiday party, with 66 per cent saying they plan to be very careful about who they see — that’s the case for only half of people in Alberta. Meanwhile, in Quebec, 62 per cent say they’ll only see other people who are fully vaccinated, but Quebecers reported more “mostly vaccinated” guests than the other provinces. They also have the smallest number of people who won’t be asking about vaccination status: seven per cent. Eighteen per cent of Albertans, meanwhile, said they won’t be asking about vaccination status.

Courtesy of Angus Reid

Courtesy of Angus Reid

Maybe because of the boundaries so many vaccinated people have placed, unvaccinated people say they’re less likely to attend dinners, parties or other gatherings than vaccinated people. Only four per cent of vaccinated people say they’ll be abstaining from socializing altogether over the holidays, compared to 14 per cent of vaccinated people.

The study was conducted online in late November, with a representative randomized sample of 2,005 Canadian adults.

Maija Kappler is a reporter and editor at Healthing. She can be reached at