Almost exactly one year ago, Canadians were expressing serious reservations about their elected officials’ preparedness to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
When Research Co. and Glacier Media asked Canadians about the future in February 2021, 45% expected the federal government to secure enough vaccine to inoculate all Canadians in seven months – as Ottawa had been promised.
Our skepticism extended to provincial administrations, which were tasked with managing COVID-19 along with all other components of the health-care system. A year ago, 51% were satisfied with the vaccination plans and phases outlined by their province, while 41% lauded the pace of vaccination.
Seven months later, Canadians expressed more positive views on these issues. In late September 2021, 69% of Canadians were satisfied with the federal procurement of vaccine doses, the provincial vaccination plans and phases (71%) and the pace of vaccination efforts (70%). These are significant shifts in public opinion based not on perceptions, but on experiences.
The last quarter of 2021 brought the Omicron variant, increased worries about travel and the return of some restrictions across the country. As the pandemic continues, it is clear that the governments that steered clear from fictional deadlines have been the winners.
Late last month, we asked Canadians about “booster shots” for the first time. Nearly 70% of the country’s residents are satisfied with the procurement of doses, the plans and phases to get booster shots (65%) and the pace of these efforts in their province (61%). The concerns about procurement – which so heavily dominated coverage in the first few months of 2021 — appear to be a distant memory.
When it comes to the plans and phases to get booster shots in the arms of Canadians, the three most populous provinces appear to be doing well, with 68% of Quebecers, 67% of British Columbians and 65% of Ontarians saying they are satisfied with this aspect.
Canadians are more anxious when asked to assess the pace of booster shot efforts in their province. Only in Quebec do we see more than two-thirds of residents (67%) expressing satisfaction with the state of affairs. The proportions are lower in Atlantic Canada (61%), Ontario (60%), and B.C. (59%).
In Quebec, where residents are traditionally more critical of the way the health-care system operates, satisfaction with the pace of vaccination efforts is higher than in any other region. This coincides with a significant drop in satisfaction with how the pandemic has been managed, going from 72% in December 2021 to 55% in January 2022 – a period that featured the threat of additional taxes to unvaccinated Quebecers.
The situation is different in B.C. Satisfaction with the government (60%) almost perfectly aligns with the way residents feel about the pace of booster shot efforts (59%).
Canadians, in great part because of the success of the vaccination efforts in 2021, have come to expect booster shots will be delivered to their arms swiftly. Dissatisfaction is low on every aspect related to this next phase of inoculation, from federal procurement to provincial procedures.
Mario Canseco is president of Research Co.
Results are based on an online study conducted from Jan. 28-30 among 1,000 adults in Canada. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error, which measures sample variability, is +/- 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.