Some demonstrators in Montreal on Sept. 12 carried signs and wore T-shirts and hats denouncing what they called fear campaigns by the Quebec government, suggesting that the danger of COVID-19 has been overstated. A new poll suggests the anti-mask demonstrators do not have a lot of support from the Canadian public. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes)

Poll finds COVID fears growing and waning support for anti-mask protests

As COVID-19 cases mount across the country, a new poll suggests that a vast majority of Canadians don’t support anti-mask demonstrations calling on governments to back off on mandating public health measures.

It also suggests that Canadians are far less divided on the issue than Americans, where the wearing of masks has become a political lightning rod as President Donald Trump seeks re-election.

The online survey by Léger and the Association for Canadian Studies found 88 per cent of respondents in Canada said they opposed the demonstrations while 12 per cent supported them.

(Among Americans, the number (31%) who support the protests was nearly triple that.)

A woman wears a face mask as she walks through a metro station in Montreal on Saturday. A poll released today found that 83 per cent of Canadian respondents feel governments should order people to wear a mask in all indoor public spaces–a 16 per cent increase from July. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes)

As well, 21 per cent of Canadian respondents felt being told to wear a mask was an infringement on personal freedoms–a decline of six per cent from July.

(Forty-three per cent of Americans polled said it was.)

“In a way, again, the anti-maskers are a minority and not a growing minority in Canada,” says Léger executive vice-president Christian Bourque.

“The fear of catching it is on the rise. People believing there will be a second wave is on the rise. And now people saying we should make the masks mandatory is on the rise.”

The poll, released today, found that 83 per cent of Canadian respondents feel governments should order people to wear a mask in all indoor public spaces.

That’s a 16 per cent increase from July when the virus appeared to be on the wane.

Even more respondents–87 per cent–said  wearing a mask was a civic duty because it protects others from COVID-19.

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 1 a.m. EDT on Sept. 22, 2020: There are 145,415 confirmed cases in Canada. — Quebec: 68,128 confirmed (including 5,804 deaths, 59,131 resolved) — Ontario: 47,274 confirmed (including 2,829 deaths, 41,146 resolved) — Alberta: 16,739 confirmed (including 256 deaths, 15,024 resolved) — British Columbia: 8,208 confirmed (including 227 deaths, 5,972 resolved) — Saskatchewan: 1,814 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,645 resolved) — Manitoba: 1,608 confirmed (including 18 deaths, 1,227 resolved) — Nova Scotia: 1,086 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,020 resolved) — Newfoundland and Labrador: 272 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 267 resolved) — New Brunswick: 196 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 191 resolved) — Prince Edward Island: 57 confirmed (including 56 resolved) — Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved) — Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved) — Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved) — Nunavut: No confirmed cases — Total: 145,415 (0 presumptive, 145,415 confirmed including 9,228 deaths, 125,712 resolved) (The Canadian Press)

Fears of contracting the novel coronavirus continue to grow in Canada.

Sixty-one per cent of respondents worried about catching the illness that has infected more than 145,000 persons and killed more than 9,200.

That compares to 51 per cent in mid-June.

Two-thirds of the Canadians polled said they believed it is likely Canada will enter another lockdown in the next three months, while 83 per cent thought the country would experience a second wave of COVID-19 — three per cent more than last week.

Fifty per cent of Canadians and 34 per cent of Americans told the poll they believed the worst of the crisis is yet to come.

People attend a demonstration opposing the mandatory wearing of face masks and coverings in Montreal last Saturday. Eighty-eight per cent of respondents in Canada said they opposed the demonstrations while 12 per cent supported them.

The poll was conducted Sept. 18 to 20 and surveyed 1,538 adult Canadians and 1,001 Americans, 18 years of age or older.

It cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples.

It follows one last week by Léger and the Association for Canadian Studies that found almost a quarter of Canadians believed warnings from public officials and medical experts were overblown and that about 57 per cent of respondents said they had eased their adherence to one or more of public health measures over the previous month.

This week’s poll notes that in the past month, 63 per cent of Canadians (and 68 per cent of Americans) reported that they have relaxed in terms of following one or more of the public health safety measures.

With files from The Canadian Press (Lee Berthiaume)

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