As mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for travellers and some industries become a point of contention amid the federal election campaign, a new poll suggests a strong majority of Canadians support the issue — regardless of their political affiliation.
The Ipsos poll found that 80 percent or more of those surveyed support mandatory vaccines for healthcare workers, teachers and public servants. Just over 80 percent said requiring proof of vaccination for train or air travellers was also a good idea.
“What the data is showing is that if people think there’s a public debate among Canadians about how one should be dealing with COVID-19 when it comes to vaccines, there really is no debate,” said Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs.
“People think that vaccines should be ubiquitous, and they think that they should be directed and even mandatory.”
The Liberal government announced right before the election was called last weekend that vaccines will be mandatory for federal workers and domestic travellers — a stance that party leader Justin Trudeau, who’s running for his third term as prime minister, doubled down on Wednesday.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has said he would not require any workers to be vaccinated, accusing Mr. Trudeau of using the issue as a political “wedge” to divide Canadians. Yet even among likely Conservative voters who responded to the Ipsos poll, about three-quarters supported mandatory vaccinations.
The poll found support for mandatory vaccinations for both healthcare workers and teachers was also high regardless of province, never dipping below 75 percent (in Quebec, for teachers) and reaching as high as 90 percent (in the Atlantic provinces, for health care workers).
Support dipped slightly for vaccine passports to be used to enter public spaces like restaurants, but not by much. Seventy-two percent of all respondents accepted the idea, including 67 percent of Conservative voters, which Bricker says is still a sign of strong support.
“It’s pretty hard to get 72 percent of Canadians to agree on anything,” he said.
“When you look at a whole series of other issues that we looked at in this survey … you see a lot of division, a lot of disagreement on the issues. But on vaccines, vaccine passports, not a lot of division.”
COVID-19, health care remains top election issues
Ipsos surveyed over 1,500 Canadians across the country online last weekend on a whole range of election issues, including mandatory vaccinations.
The results show the COVID-19 pandemic remains a top issue for voters, with just over a quarter of respondents saying it’s most important to them. That number is up to six points from when the same question was asked just a month ago before the fourth wave of the pandemic took hold.
Health care topped the list at 31 percent support and was selected as the most important issue by voters in all provinces except Alberta, where the economy is seen as the key issue. The economy (25 percent), climate change (23 percent) and affordability (23 percent) rounded out the top five nationally.
As for which party is best equipped to handle those issues, the poll found the Liberals lead the way with the COVID-19 pandemic and health care. Nearly half of those who picked the pandemic as the most important issue said the Liberals would be their party of choice, while 30 percent said the same for health care.
While the Green Party was unsurprisingly chosen as the best party to deal with climate change, with 32 percent support, the Liberals weren’t far behind at 30 percent.
Yet 41 percent said the Conservatives were seen as the party with the firmest grip on the economy, compared to 33 percent who chose the Liberals. The NDP, meanwhile, was seen as the party that can best address affordability, at 27 percent support.
That’s despite 32 percent of respondents saying the Liberals have the best plan for Canada’s post-pandemic future. No other party — including the Conservatives and NDP — cracked 20 percent support.
Mr. Bricker said those numbers could change, however.
“As we go through this election, we’re going to see other plans, and the question is whether the Liberal plan continues to hold up,” he said, referring to last fall’s economic statement and the federal budget the Trudeau government released earlier this year.
“Right now, the incumbent party … does not have the confidence of Canadians in terms of being able to manage either the affordability questions of kitchen table-type economics or the economy overall. … So this is definitely a challenge to the Trudeau and the Liberals.”
Just over half of Canadians, or 53 percent, said the Trudeau government has done a good job managing the economy throughout the pandemic, while the rest disapproved.
The division largely fell along party lines, with 93 percent of Liberal voters agreeing with the government’s economic management while 82 percent of Conservative voters disapproved.
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