Nearly half of Canadians visited with family or friends over the winter holiday period despite public health guidelines to limit contact amid rising COVID-19 cases, a new poll suggests.
The Léger/Association for Canadian Studies poll found 48 percent of those surveyed visited with people outside their households, compared to 52 percent who said they did not.
Of those who did visit with friends or family outside their homes, 34 percent did it once, 12 percent two or three times, and two percent did it often.
As COVID-19 infection numbers rise across the country, the poll suggests 62 percent surveyed have little to no confidence in Canada’s ability to limit the spread of the virus over the next few weeks.
That pessimism is notable, considering that before the holidays polls suggested Canadians were feeling optimistic about 2021, said Léger vice-president Christian Bourque.
But stories in the waning days of 2020 about delays in vaccine rollouts, climbing case counts, and news that many politicians left the country over the holidays despite limits on travel, seem to be turning Canadians’ moods, he said.
“I think it’s gotten people to be more skeptical about how much we can do in the short term,” he said.
Throughout the pandemic, Léger has asked Canadians about their mental health, and Bourque said the latest round of responses reflect a downturn: in the most recent survey, only 33 percent rated their mental health as good, the lowest figure yet, he said.
“January is set up to be a bit gloomy,” he said.
Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies carried out the survey of 1,506 Canadians between Dec. 30, 2020, and Jan. 3, 2021. The poll was conducted online and cannot be assigned a margin of error as online surveys aren’t considered truly random.
As pollsters were asking the questions, news reports surfaced of politicians, including Ontario’s finance minister and several federal MPs and provincial politicians in Alberta, among others, taking trips outside the country in recent months.
This is in spite of repeated warnings from local and national governments, as well as public health officials, that travel should be limited to only essential trips.