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Skeptics still exist, but number of Canadians who see COVID-19 as 'serious threat' continues to grow: poll

Last Updated Mar 30, 2020 at 8:41 pm PDT


More than 10 per cent of Angus Reid Institute respondents say the COVID-19 crisis is being overblown

The Angus Reid Institute has found the number of Canadians who see the pandemic as a serious threat continues to grow

A second poll this week has found more than two-thirds of Canadians have a new appreciation for the basics of life

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – As the number of diagnosed cases of COVID-19 tops 6,000 in Canada, there is still a significant number of people across the country who believe the threat from outbreak is being overblown.

Twelve-per-cent of respondents in an Angus Reid Institute poll said they believe the pandemic isn’t as serious as is being made out to be, and it turns out these same Canadians are less likely to take preventative measures to stop the spread.

That includes measures like physical distancing or regularly washing hands.

“A number of recommendations from health officials are being ignored by Canadians who see the outbreak as overblown,” the survey findings read.

The Angus Reid Institute noted only 37 per cent of respondents are actually following recommendations being made by health officials, versus 72 per cent of Canadians who see the issue as “serious.”

“Those who see threat of the COVID-19 outbreak as overblown are also likely to say things will get ‘back to normal’ more quickly than those who say the threat is serious,” the survey added.

(Courtesy Angus Reid Institute)

The majority of respondents consider the pandemic a “serious threat” – 88 per cent.

The pollster said the group of people who see the outbreak as being overblown was “much larger” close to two months ago, at the beginning of February, and that the number of people seeing the crisis as being serious has grown “consistently.”

So who are these skeptics? According to The Angus Reid Institute, they’re more likely to be men who are over the age of 34, who voted Conservative in the last election.

Meanwhile, on the topic of physical distancing – formerly referred to as social distancing — Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam has said she is carefully watching to see whether or not the measure is now slowing the spread of the virus or not.

“I still think it’s a little too early to tell, because we are only at the end of March,” she said. “But, next week will be very, very important.”

Appreciating the basics of life

And not that you need another poll, but marketing group Anstice has some lighter-hearted findings for you amid the pandemic.

According to the firm, more than two-thirds of Canadians have a new appreciation for the basics of life, health, family and freedom of movement, and not so much for indulgent consumer behaviour.

“People are appreciating the foundational necessities of life more than ever – the things that in the past, perhaps that they may have taken for granted,” Dr. Mark Szabo, director of insights and engagement for Anstice, said. “This has been a wake-up call. For quite a while now consumers have focused on deriving meaning from what they buy, but some of the fundamentals of what people find meaningful are shifting as we speak.”

Along with a new-found appreciation for the little things in life, Anstice’s survey has also found a little more than 40 per cent of respondents have new respect for those working in the energy sector, while 50 per cent of people have new appreciation for utility providers.

And with more and more Canadians working from home in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, Anstice has found more than 50 per cent of people doing so want employers to continue to give them this option in the future.

The only thing those working from home lack, is basic human contact.

-With files from The Canadian Press