COVID-19: Canadians almost unanimously support the lockout. Here’s what they think of it


By John Wright

Governments across the country, and in many places in the United States, have reduced the boom to get people out of the streets, out of parks and into their homes in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. What had been “self-distancing” has become more extreme, with citizens around the world being invited to go home and stay at home in a virtual lockdown.

During the transition, there were many DART and maru / Blue surveys in Canada and the United States, and we took the pulse of the public as a new standard began to take hold.

There is an old canuck joke that reads: How do you get 100 Canadians out of the civic pool? Easy, just lean over and say politely, “Would all Canadians want to get out of the pool?”

When the order came to go home and stay home, the Canadians answered the call

And similarly, when the order came to go home and stay at home, the Canadians answered the call, albeit with a little nuance. In a poll from March 27-29, almost unanimous support (90%) was given to stay the course and keep things locked up as much as possible – until there is a medical solution (44%) or until things are manageable within the health system (46%). Only about one in ten (seven percent) believed that we should relax the restrictions, while a mere fraction (three percent) believed that our lives should return to normal.

In short, with the exception of one straggler, nine out of ten Canadians not only came out of the pool, but were also ready to stay in the locker room until things were sorted out – and on the presumptive schedule of all of that. , there really is no end in sight.

In fact, Peter Donnelly, President and CEO of Public Health Ontario, said at a press conference last Friday that he expects two new waves of COVID-19 disease and that the pandemic could last from 18 to 24 months. If those watching the press conference had hoped for a glimmer of hope that what would happen would end soon enough so that they could return to the pool, they were sadly mistaken. The sighting stayed there.

A patient was taken to the emergency room at Saint-Eustache hospital on April 7, 2020 in Saint-Eustache, Quebec.

Ryan Remiorz / The Canadian Press

It has become clear that the basic game is to keep people locked up for as long as possible while the federal government puts money in their hands, and all other levels of government divide their efforts between providing care. of desperately needed support and ensuring peace, order and good governance. As for tax collection, the economy and jobs, it looks like they will have to step down for the time being.

To this end, the Canadian public wants a similar orientation, with a majority (65%) considering the threat to the health of the coronavirus to be greater than the threat to financial well-being (24%). The concerns of those who focused on finance were evident in another poll the previous week: about five percent of the public said they were in dire circumstances while one in five (19 percent) was about to run out of money.

On other financial issues, 4% of Canadians said they were close to bankruptcy and 9% were close to bankruptcy. As for homeowners with a mortgage, almost one in ten (nine percent) said it is likely that they will not pay the loan in the next three months.

So when you add it all up, the majority of Canadians focus on protecting their health while about another quarter prioritizes their jobs, their wallets and the roof over their heads.

Four percent of Canadians said they were close to bankruptcy and nine percent were close to bankruptcy

And being homebound, most Canadians have plugged in and watched the events in the United States – sometimes having difficulty understanding what it should be at street level. Well, it turns out that it’s similar on this side of the border. We adopted the definitions used by Public Health Canada and adapted another one to compare our two countries with regard to the now more “extreme” self-distancing rules, and we found that the results were in full sync: 7.0% of Canadians said they were self-monitoring compared to 9.0% of Americans; Self-isolation: 5.0% of Canadians versus 4.0% of Americans: Isolation: 1.0% of Canadians versus 2.0 of Americans; Home stay: 72% of Canadians versus 70% of Americans; and none of that: 16% of Canadians versus 16% of Americans.

The apparent public question in our previous survey seemed to relate to the whole process – how people at all stations would be able to put money in their hands. The federal government appears to have answered the call and put in place a system to start delivering soon.

Although seemingly in compliance for the most part, and with money now flowing into bank accounts, much of the public will begin to look up and wonder when or if a new normal will be in sight. as good as possible, for maybe months to come. The next two weeks, with the death toll expected to rise, could simply keep the answer at bay for the time being, and the people in their homes without much complaint.

But what will soon weigh heavily on elected officials and public servants will be the need to provide the public with a good dollop of hope in exchange for their bucket of compliance.

Veteran pollster John Wright is a partner in DART Insight and Communications and leads the research team on DART and maru / Blue surveys. The results of the survey are posted at


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