Two years. Of illness and recovery. Of death and loss. Of scientific breakthroughs at breakneck speed. Of moments of unexpected kindness. Of anxiety and hope. Of solidarity and empathy, but lately, anger too.
How do Canadians sum up the more than 700 days since the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreaks worldwide a pandemic?
Data from a new comprehensive public opinion study – a joint project of the non-profit Angus Reid Institute and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation – reveals what people in this country have experienced during this unprecedented period, how they’re feeling now, and where they expect things to go in the months ahead.
This first report in a series highlights the lived experience of Canadians over the last two years, and their perceptions of the ways the pandemic has changed our society. While a key sentiment underpinning the national attitude today is gratitude – indeed, 70 per cent say they are “thankful to be living in Canada” through this time – a darker mood prevails.
The findings are stark: an overwhelming majority (82%) believe the pandemic has pulled people apart as opposed to bringing them together (18%). About the same number (79%) say this period has brought out the worst, not the best (21%) in people. Nearly two-thirds (61%) say Canadians’ level of compassion for one another has weakened.
And despite the developments and lessons of the last 24 months, Canadians are jaded about how well this country is equipped to handle a future pandemic. Most (70%) believe Canada will “struggle just as much” in the next pandemic – while fewer than half that number (30%) say the nation is in “good shape” to handle something similar happening again.
More Key Findings:
- Fully half of Canadians (54%) say they have a close friend or family member who was infected with COVID-19 during the past two years. More than one-in-three (36%) had an infection in their household.
- Asked to gauge the level of disruption COVID-19 brought to their life, one-in-ten (11%) say it was severe, while half (47%) say it was significant. Those younger than 35 are more likely to report significant or severe disruption – two-thirds among both men and women say this.
- Seven-in-ten Canadians (72%) postponed travel at some point during the past two years. Half (48%) delayed medical appointments, while one-quarter (26%) delayed a more serious medical procedure or surgery.
- Many Canadians (11%) relocated over the past two years. B.C. residents are most likely to say this (18%), while 13 per cent in Ontario say the same.