Pandemic brought Canadians together and separated them, poll finds


Canadians believe the COVID-19 crisis has brought their country closer together, while Americans blame the pandemic for deepening their cultural and political divide, a new international public opinion survey suggests.At least two-thirds of Canadian respondents to the Pew Research Center study released Thursday say they believe Canada is more united because of the coronavirus, while 77% of American participants believe the exact opposite south of the border.

“In the United States, where a patchwork of coronavirus-related restrictions reflects broad disagreement over the best path to economic recovery while mitigating the spread of the virus, about three-quarters say the United States is more divided than before. the coronavirus epidemic, ”the center said in a statement.

“In contrast, nearly three-quarters in Denmark say there is more unity now than before the coronavirus outbreak. More than half in Canada, Sweden, South Korea and Australia also say their countries have become more united since the coronavirus outbreak. ”

A similar bilateral gap emerged when respondents were asked how their respective countries responded to the emergency.

In Canada, 88% of respondents said they approved of their country’s response to COVID-19, compared with just 47% of Americans who think similarly to the United States responded.

The difference of opinion in the United States was related to the political affiliations of those who took part in the survey, said Kat Devlin, one of the Pew research associates who wrote the report. Of those identified as Republicans, 76 percent applauded the government’s response, compared with 25 percent of Democrats.

Political divisions

“In a way, in the United States, we see these political divisions between the two main political parties that can affect the general opinions of the United States in relation to Canada. ”

Another online poll conducted over the weekend by Léger for the Association for Canadian Studies asked Canadians and Americans which of the two countries they said had handled the epidemic better.

At least 87% of Canadian respondents said their country’s response was “a lot” or “a little” better than that of the United States, while only 38% of Americans agreed. Almost as many – 37 percent – gave the United States higher marks than Canada, while 25 percent did not respond.

The Pew survey also found a distinct link between respondents disappointed with the pandemic response in their country and the likelihood that they would feel a deepening of the divisions.

“In all of the countries studied, those who think their country has done a bad job in the face of the coronavirus outbreak are more likely to say that their country is now more divided. ”

The disparate versions of reality in the United States regarding COVID-19 have been clearly displayed over the past two weeks, as American political parties, with their eyes riveted on the November 3 presidential election, used their national conventions to run competing narratives. .

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Joe Biden’s Democrats have excoriated Donald Trump’s response to the pandemic and the economic crisis that followed, accusing the president of “devastating and inexcusable management” and his agents of lying “between their teeth” about it.

Republicans, meanwhile, insist the crisis is under control, even as the death toll – 183,000 so far out of six million cases worldwide – continues to rise.

Regardless of their political affiliation, Americans polled agreed that divisions in the United States have widened since the start of the pandemic, Devlin said.

“This is actually a question on which Republicans and Democrats are somewhat united in their responses,” she said. “About three-quarters at least in both sides feel this sense of national division here. “

Women, who typically do more unpaid work from home, such as babysitting, reported a disproportionate impact of the pandemic in 12 of the 14 countries surveyed. (Katerina Georgieva / CBC)

The Canadian portion of the Pew study involved 1,037 respondents across the country who were surveyed by telephone between June 15 and July 27, and the US section had 1,003 US participants who participated between June 16 and July 14.

Both components of the survey have a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

14 pays

The survey, which involved participants from 14 countries including the UK, France, Italy, Australia, Japan and South Korea, also found that a majority of respondents believed that the global spread of COVID-19 could have been mitigated by stronger international cooperation. This feeling was especially strong in Europe, which was hit hard by the virus in the early days of the pandemic, particularly in Italy and Spain.

In the United States, where Trump has largely taken a stand-alone approach, 58% of respondents said the number of American cases could have been reduced had the country worked more closely with other countries.

Women who participated in the survey reported a disproportionate impact of the pandemic in 12 of the 14 countries represented. In Canada, 69 percent said their life had changed “a lot” or “quite a bit”, compared to 57 percent of men.

“Women around the world typically do more unpaid work in the home than their male counterparts, such as childcare and housework, and this can be amplified by the closure of schools and daycares to combat spread of COVID-19, ”Pew reported.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development also said that more women than men around the world are employed part-time, “which is more likely to have been interrupted by the pandemic.”


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