Ontarians most likely to blame their provincial government for “preventable” third wave

VANCOUVER – It was Ontario’s lost weekend. Within a span of 48 hours, after public health officials implored the Ford government to implement changes aimed at protecting and prioritizing front-line workers as new COVID-19 infections ravaged the province, it instead closed playgrounds and gave police sweeping new powers. What followed was seething anger across the province, and a swift reversal from Queen’s Park.

But five days and a tearful apology from Premier Doug Ford later, Ontarians are of the opinion that a third wave of COVID-19 could have been averted – and that their provincial government should have been the one to avert it.

New data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute indicates those living in Canada’s most populous province are not only most likely to say that this latest outbreak of the novel coronavirus was ‘preventable’ (69%) but also that their provincial government is primarily to blame for not preventing it (43%).

Further, fewer than one-third (31%) of Ontarians say they feel Ford is doing a good job of handling the pandemic, while 67 per cent say he is doing a poor job. This represents a slight, statistically insignificant worsening of opinion over the last two weeks, but a decline of 24 percentage points since November of last year.

He is not the only premier to be on the receiving end of his constituents’ disappointment. One-quarter of those in Alberta say Premier Jason Kenney is doing a good job (26%) and fewer than three-in-ten say the same for Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister (28%).

Other findings

Overall, 58 per cent of Canadians feel COVID-19’s third wave was preventable, while 32 per cent feel there is little their provincial governments and health officials could have done to stop it.

Among those who say this wave of the virus could have been stopped before it started, 35 per cent say their provincial and federal governments are equally responsible for it. The rest blame primarily their provincial government (31%) or mostly the federal government (28%).

Regarding the issue of restrictions on movement and commerce in individual communities, 45 per cent say they don’t go far enough, 29 per cent say they are too stringent and 27 per cent say they are well-balanced.