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

A map released by the BCCDC Friday, Jan. 15 shows five diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in the Grand Forks health area. Photo: Maps: COVID-19 cases in BC, British Columbia Centre for Disease Control website
Five COVID-19 cases reported in Grand Forks area

The BC Centre for Disease Control announced the cases in a weekly update Friday, Jan. 15

Pioneer Arena is closing for the season. Photo: John Boivin
Castlegar’s Pioneer Arena and Nelson Civic Centre closing for season

RDCK is closing the ice at two of its arenas due to financial concerns related to COVID-19

Les Cleverly, formerly of Grand Forks Fire/Rescue, is suing the city as well as current and former city firefighters over alleged workplace bullying and defamation. File photo.
Former Grand Forks firefighter suing department, city over alleged conspiracy, constructed dismissal

Plaintiff Les Cleverly filed a notice of civil claim with the Supreme Court of BC in last week

A juvenile sturgeon in a B.C. rearing facility. The wild population in the Upper Columbia is estimated at 1,100 individuals, enhanced with roughly 5,500 hatchery fish. (file photo)
B.C.’s Upper Columbia sturgeon endure long battle with local extinction

Decades of monitoring and intervention is ongoing to save the prehistoric fish

The court will fix a date for sentencing on Feb. 9. File photo
Powell River man pleads guilty to sexual interference of a minor in Grand Forks

The man is awaiting sentencing pending a psychological assessment

Justin Kripps of Summerland and his team have competed in Olympic action and World Cup competitions in bobsleigh. (Jason Ransom-Canadian Olympic Comittee).
QUIZ: Are you ready for some winter sports?

It’s cold outside, but there are plenty of recreation opportunities in the winter months

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Most Read