Canada's COVID-19 response could be key factor for many voters

The poll indicates that six out of 10 voters are satisfied with the federal response to the pandemic.

The Montreal Gazette 3 minute read September 20, 2021

by Marian Scott

The federal government’s handling of COVID-19 will be the determining factor in how four out of 10 Canadians vote in Monday’s federal election, a recent Léger poll suggests.

That proportion has declined slightly since the start of the election campaign, when half of voters said it would be the determining factor, said Jack Jedwab, president and CEO of the Association for Canadian Studies, which commissioned the survey.

Other issues have since arisen, like gun control, housing affordability, climate change and, in Quebec, a controversy over a question in the English debate denounced as Quebec bashing, he noted.

Anti-vaccine protests have disrupted the campaign, with demonstrators shouting profanities and hitting Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau with gravel two weeks ago.

In July, a Léger poll showed the Conservative Party leading among unvaccinated Canadians, with 40 per cent of voter intentions, Jedwab said.

Many anti-vaxxers appear to have shifted to the People’s Party of Canada, he said. That party had the support of 15 per cent of unvaccinated Canadians in July and has probably doubled its support among that group, he said.

Three-quarters of Canadians have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Six out of 10 voters are satisfied with federal measures to fight the virus, the poll indicates.

Most Canadians are slightly less satisfied with how their provincial government has handled the pandemic, at 57 per cent on average.

However, Quebecers are more satisfied with the provincial government’s response to the pandemic (76 per cent satisfied) than with that of the federal government (61 per cent).

People in the Atlantic Provinces (80 per cent satisfied) and British Columbia (75 per cent) also gave their provincial governments higher marks than the feds.

But residents of Alberta (23 per cent satisfied with their province’s response); Manitoba and Saskatchewan (40 per cent satisfied); and Ontario (48 per cent satisfied) flunked their provincial governments on their pandemic response.

Nearly nine out of 10 Canadians say they have a positive view of Canada. In Quebec, 80 per cent have a positive view of Canada, despite the debate question controversy, Jedwab said.

The more positively people view Canada, the more favourably they view the federal government’s COVID-19 strategy, the poll shows. Thus, 80 per cent of people who have a very positive view of Canada say the government has done a good job of handling the virus.

Non-francophone Quebecers are much more likely to say the federal government has done a good job (73 per cent) than francophones (57 per cent).

However, Quebecers of all language backgrounds agree the provincial government has done a good job (76 per cent of francophones and 78 per cent of non-francophones ).

Canadians perceive the federal government’s handling of the COVID-19 more favourably than Americans, of whom only 49 per cent give their government a good mark.

The poll surveyed 1,549 Canadians via web panel Sept. 10-12.

While no margin of error can be associated with a non-probability sample, a probability sample of that size would have a margin of error of plus or minus 2.52 per cent, 19 times out of 20.