Unlike Americans, most Canadians pleased with gov't handling of pandemic: poll
People wear face masks as they walk along a pedestrian zone on Saint-Laurent Boulevard in Montreal, Saturday, August 15, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
TORONTO -- Unlike most Americans, the majority of Canadians believe their government has done a good job in responding to the coronavirus pandemic and they’re more united now than they were before the outbreak.
That’s according to a new Pew Research Center public opinion survey, which asked 14,276 adults in 14 countries to rate their nation’s response to the health emergency and the unity of its citizens.
Among the 1,037 Canadians surveyed from June 10 to Aug. 3, 88 per cent said their country had done a “good” job of handling the pandemic while only 11 per cent viewed the government as having done a “bad” job.
That’s in line with the majority of individuals in other nations who also approved of their country’s ability to handle the outbreak.
Overall, a median of 73 per cent of respondents agreed that their respective governments had been successful in managing the crisis while only 27 per cent disagreed.
The other countries included in the survey were the United States, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, and South Korea.
The United States and the United Kingdom were the only two countries on the list where the majority of citizens said their governments had done badly in their response, with 52 per cent expressing dissatisfaction in the U.S. and 54 per cent in the U.K.
Denmark scored highest in the ranking with 95 per cent of its citizens pleased with their government’s response, followed by Australia (94 per cent), and Canada (88 per cent).
When it came to national unity, Denmark again scored the highest on the list with 72 per cent saying their country was more united than it was before the pandemic.
Denmark was followed by Canada where the majority were in agreement that the pandemic had actually brought people together rather than driving them apart, with 66 per cent replying they were more united and 29 per cent saying the country was more divided.
The feeling of division was most evident in the U.S. where a whopping 77 per cent of respondents felt the country was currently less unified than it was before the pandemic.
“In the U.S., where a patchwork of coronavirus-related restrictions reflects broad disagreement over the best path to economic recovery while mitigating the spread of the virus, roughly three-quarters say that the U.S. is more divided than before the coronavirus outbreak,” the Pew Research Center said in a release Thursday.
“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.”
Spain had the second-highest number of citizens who felt the country was more divided now at 59 per cent, with only 39 per cent agreeing it had become more united.
The Pew Research Center said it was unsurprising that citizens who felt their country had done poorly in handling the pandemic also believed there was less national unity than there was before the crisis.
“In every country surveyed, those who think their country has done a bad job of dealing with the coronavirus outbreak are more likely to say that their country is now more divided,” the researchers said.
The survey also interviewed participants on whether the spread of coronavirus could have been mitigated with more international co-operation.
“A 14-country median of 59 per cent say that if their country had co-operated more with other countries, the number of coronavirus cases would have been lower in their country. In comparison, a median of 36 per cent say such co-operation would have been futile in reducing cases,” the centre said.
In the U.S., 58 per cent of respondents said they believed the number of cases in the States wouldn’t have been as high if the country had collaborated more with other nations.
Finally, the public opinion poll also measured the impact of the pandemic on certain segments of the population within the surveyed countries and found that overall women were more likely than men to say their lives had changed because of the outbreak.
In 12 of the 14 countries on the list, more women than men reported being significantly impacted by the pandemic.
In Canada, 69 per cent of women said their lives had changed a “great deal or fair amount” due to the pandemic compared with 57 per cent of men.
“Women around the world typically do more unpaid work at home than their male counterparts, such as child care and housework, and this may be amplified by closure of schools and day care centers to combat the spread of COVID-19,” the Pew Research Centre said.
Additionally, a higher share of women than men participate in part-time work in the surveyed countries, which is “more likely to have been interrupted” by the outbreak, the research centre quoted the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as saying.
For the report, the centre used data from nationally representative surveys of 14,276 adults from June 10 to Aug. 3, 2020, in 14 advanced economies. All surveys were conducted over the phone with adults in Canada, the U.S., Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the U.K., Australia, Japan, and South Korea.
The margin of error was plus or minus 3.7 percentage points, 19 times out 20.
With files from The Canadian Press