87% of Canadians want total ban on international travel until COVID-19 wanes

Amid public anger resulting in the resignations of sun-seeking politicians, a poll finds 52 per cent of Canadians visited no one over the year-end holidays and 87 per cent want a total ban on international travel until COVID-19 numbers decline.

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press with CNC files

OTTAWA — A Leger national opinion survey has found 87 per cent of Canadians asked said they would support a total ban on international travel until there are several consecutive days of reduced numbers of COVID-19 cases.

Leger vice president Christian 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.

The survey also found 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.

The survey found that while 52 per cent of Canadians did not visit any friends of family during the winter holiday period, 34 per cent did so once, 12 per cent did two or three times, and two per cent did it often.

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.

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