GSL Associate Director Collaborates on Canadian COVID-19 Social Impacts Survey

Graphic design of a survey

On April 14, a research team led by York University’s Liberal Arts & Professional Studies Assistant Professor Eric Kennedy, with contributions by GSL Associate Director Patrick Fafard, published the Canadian COVID-19 Social Impacts Survey. The survey investigates what Canadians are thinking about the response to COVID-19, who should lead it and what should influence it.

With regard to leadership, over 70% of Canadians say they have confidence in the Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO) of Canada Theresa Tam, and her provincial/territorial colleagues and have somewhat less confidence in the ministers of health. This coincides with GSL’s ongoing CPHO research underlining the fact that governments created and are maintaining a public-facing CPHO role with the full expectation that citizens will have confidence in messages coming from a public health physician.

Just over half of Canadians (53%) think that scientific evidence is among the top three influences on Canada’s response to the pandemic. The others are economic considerations (56%) and advice from medical doctors (53%). 82% of Canadian think scientific evidence should be in the top three.

Another surprising finding is that compared to the flu, respondents were more concerned about the severity of COVID-19 and the likelihood of many Canadians being affected – but are less worried about personally getting sick. 85% of respondents disagreed that “the Coronavirus will not affect very many people in Canada,” while only 2% agreed. When asked the same question about the flu on a 2019 survey, 20% agreed. In other words, Canadians are highly concerned about COVID-19 with 94% either agreeing or strongly agreeing that catching the virus can be serious, but only 23% of Canadians believe they are likely to become sick with it.

You can read the full report on the survey here.


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