COVID-19 third wave drives surge of criticism for Kenney, Ford, and other premiers

VANCOUVER – Early hope for a spring season that would have marked the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic has in many parts of the country given way to an all-out fight against rapidly spreading variants of the virus. So far, the variants appear to be winning as their virulence outpaces any reduction in spread from Canada’s vaccination program.

This third wave of the pandemic has brought new rounds of restrictions on travel and businesses in some of Canada’s most populous provinces and has spurred near equal intensity between those who want to see their communities lock down even harder, and those fatigued by an inability to resume their pre-pandemic lives.

As provinces adjust to rising daily case counts and the logistical challenges of mass inoculation, new data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds Canadians increasingly disappointed in their provincial leaders. At least half in Saskatchewan (50%), Manitoba (59%), Ontario (65%), and Alberta (75%) now say that their premier is doing a poor job handling the pandemic.

The reasons for these opinions, however, are varied. In Ontario, the sense that the government took too long to implement new restrictions drives negative views. Indeed, 61 per cent of Ontarians called for tougher restrictions in their province while this public opinion survey was being conducted. Notably, the government introduced a new stay-at-home order on Thursday, just as fielding finished.

But Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has a different problem to solve. Nearly half (45%) of his constituents say the regulations in place already go too far – the highest number saying this in the country – while close to the same number (42%) say that they don’t go far enough.

Overall, half of Canadians (48%) say that their communities need tighter restrictions to stem rising infections, while 28 per cent disagree. One-quarter (24%) say their community has found the right balance.

Two-thirds of Canadians say they are concerned about becoming sick with COVID-19. This is a four-point increase from March. Four-in-five (81%) worry about a friend or family member.

One-in-three Canadians (34%) say that their mental health is poor or terrible. This rises to half among those under the age of 35.

Two-in-five Canadians (43%) say that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has done a good job of handling the pandemic, while 52 per cent say he has done a poor job.