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Worst of pandemic is over, majority of Canadians think, poll finds

Emilie Bergeron, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — A majority of Canadians believe that the worst of the COVID-19 crisis is over, indicates a new Léger poll which shows even more marked optimism among respondents in Quebec.

Across the country, 55% of respondents share this opinion, a proportion that rises to 68% among respondents in Quebec.

“There really was a change in mentality which happened at about the same time as our governments removed many of the sanitary measures in place”, observes Christian Bourque, executive vice-president of the firm Léger.

He notes that Canadians’ level of support for the perception that the worst of the pandemic is over has jumped since February. This increase is observed even if the health authorities have reported, in recent weeks, that a sixth wave of spread has begun.

“We feel more comfortable with this pandemic, but there are still 44% of Canadians who are afraid of catching (COVID-19). It’s as if it’s going well, but it’s not over, ”qualifies Mr. Bourque.

However, he adds that the proportion of those who believe that the worst is yet to come is at a significantly low level, gathering only 14% of respondents. “It has rarely been so low since the very beginning of the pandemic.”

The pollster suggests that any attempt by provincial governments to reinstate withdrawn health measures could be poorly received by the population.

Although wearing a mask is currently still required in public places in Quebec, the province has dropped the obligation to show a vaccination passport to sit in a restaurant, for example. Among other relaxations, establishments which had to limit themselves to opening their doors to only 50% of their maximum capacity no longer have to comply with this type of requirement.

Quebec optimism, a continuity

Moreover, the stronger level of optimism of Quebecers as to the trajectory of the pandemic is not surprising, according to Mr. Bourque. “There is always a certain lightness of being – if I can put it that way – in Quebec, and that is reflected in all the questions that have focused on the pandemic from the very beginning”, summarizes- he.

The executive vice-president of Léger affirms that he particularly noticed this trend when Quebecers were questioned, earlier during the pandemic, on the return to face-to-face school. “(It was) ”yes no problem” in Quebec. This was less the case in the rest of Canada,” underlines Mr. Bourque.

The optimism of Quebecers was also observed on a panoply of other issues, says Mr. Bourque, mentioning less concern about the rising cost of living.

One thing is certain, it remains to be seen whether the impression that “the worst of the (health) crisis is behind” will persist both across Quebec and across Canada. The belief has been shared, several times already, by a majority of respondents – with sometimes more than 60% support – before this trend goes down over time.

“It’s as if the Canadians had been disappointed three other times and that corresponds exactly, chronologically, to the arrival of the last three waves,” explains the pollster.

The Léger poll, conducted in collaboration with the Association for Canadian Studies, was conducted online among 1,538 Canadians from April 8 to 10. No margin of error can be calculated since the sampling is not probabilistic.