Christmas decorations are seen in front of an office building in Montreal, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. A new survey suggests nearly half of Canadians visited with family or friends over the winter holiday period. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Christmas decorations are seen in front of an office building in Montreal, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. A new survey suggests nearly half of Canadians visited with family or friends over the winter holiday period. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Nearly half of Canadians visited friends, family over holidays, new poll suggests

Public health officials had pleaded with Canadians to sharply limit their contacts

A new survey suggests nearly half of Canadians visited with family or friends over the winter holiday period.

The Léger/Association for Canadian Studies poll found 48 per cent of those surveyed visited with people outside their households, compared to 52 per cent who said they did not.

Public health officials had pleaded with Canadians to sharply limit their contacts during the holidays to avoid massive spikes in COVID-19 cases.

But it appears something gave for Canadians, said Léger vice-president Christian Bourque.

“Usually we Canadians are sort of much more, I would say, disciplined when it comes to going by what governments are recommending in terms of our behaviour, but over the holidays, apparently, it was sort of tougher on Canadians,” he said.

READ MORE: Feds weigh cutting COVID-19 sickness benefit for Canadians who have travelled

Of those who did visit with friends or family outside their homes, 34 per cent did once, 12 per cent did two or three times, and two per cent did it often.

COVID-19 case numbers are rising, and the poll suggests 62 per cent surveyed have little to no confidence in Canada’s ability to limit the spread of COVID-19 over the next few weeks.

That pessimism is notable, considering that before the holidays, polls suggested Canadians were feeling optimistic about 2021, Bourque said.

But stories in the waning days of 2020 about delays in vaccine rollouts, climbing case counts and news that many politicians left the country over the holidays despite limits on travel, seem to be turning Canadians’ moods, he said.

“I think it’s gotten people to be more skeptical about how much we can do in the short term,” he said.

Throughout the pandemic, Léger has asked Canadians about their mental health, and Bourque said the latest round of responses reflect a downturn: in the most recent survey, only 33 per cent rated their mental health as good, the lowest figure yet, he said.

“January is set up to be a bit gloomy,” he said.

Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies carried out the survey of 1,506 Canadians between Dec. 30, 2020 and Jan. 3, 2021.

The poll was conducted online, and cannot be assigned a margin of error as online surveys aren’t considered truly random.

As pollsters were asking the questions, news reports surfaced of politicians, including Ontario’s finance minister, several federal MPs and provincial politicians in Alberta, among others, taking trips outside the country in recent months.

READ MORE: Canada to require arriving airline passengers to provide proof of negative COVID test

That’s in spite of repeated warnings from local and national governments, as well as public health officials, that travel should be limited only to essential trips.

In the survey, 87 per cent of those asked said they would support a total ban on international travel until there are several consecutive days of reduced numbers of COVID-19 cases

Bourque said that number is consistent with similar questions asked throughout the pandemic, but also reflects a growing desire by Canadians for governments to take concrete action to try to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The federal government has said only a small fraction of the active cases in Canada can be directly linked to recent travel, though it did ban incoming flights from the United Kingdom after a new variant of COVID-19 that is believed to be more contagious surfaced there late last year.

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusHolidaystravel

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The RCMP was called to a condo complex in Langley City in the early hours of Jan. 18, 2021, for a shooting. (Shane Mackichan/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
Our View: Too many shootings as gang war continues

We need to ask what more we could be doing to stop the endless gang wars

A lawsuit over three stormwater floods of a building over the past year has been launched against Langley City. (Langley Advance Times file)
Flooded apartment building sparks lawsuit against Langley City

A downtown landlord claims a lack of storm sewer upgrades is negligence

Abbotsford’s Willow Video location will be closing at the end of the month. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
Abbotsford’s Willow Video closing

Video game, movie retailer closing up shop after more than 20 years

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
1-in-5 COVID tests coming back positive in and around Fernie, sparking concern

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Ralliers gather in front of the Cityviews Village apartment building in Maple Ridge to protest attempts to evict low-income tenants by the building owner. (Ronan O’Doherty - The News)
Tenants protest pressure tactics by new landlord at Maple Ridge apartment building

Protest held in front of Cityviews Village on 223 St. Tuesday to rally against low-income evictions

Most Read