Mask supporters outnumber 'squeaky wheel' opposition, national survey finds
SASKATOON -- Loleen Berdahl says she was struck by the number of people who said they are bothered when other people don't wear masks in a recent survey.
"A lot of the narrative that we hear is people being concerned about mask wearing and the data found a different story. That perhaps those people who are concerned about wearing masks are this very vocal minority and that it's actually people who are bothered by those who aren't wearing masks are really the quieter, very large majority."
Berdahl is the executive director of the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy (JSGS) at the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Regina. The school and public policy organizations across the country conducted the Confederation of Tomorrow 2021 Survey of Canadians, covering Canadians’ views on masks-wearing policies, vaccines, lockdowns, and their trust in the scientific and medical community.
Seventy-seven per cent of respondents say they are not bothered when stores and businesses require customers to wear a mask, while 79% are bothered when people around them in public don't wear masks.
Having data to show people's actual views is important, as opposed to focusing on the "squeaky wheel," Berdahl said.
"You don't see big movements of people out protesting others not wearing masks, so they don't get the attention. But there's clearly a lot of support for wearing masks in public, there's a lot of support for taking the steps necessary to have the protection that we need for public health."
The survey also found that Conservative Party supporters, at 31 per cent, are more supportive of a faster reopening of the economy than supporters of any of the other main parties. The figures for other party supporters are: Liberal Party 14 per cent, Green Party 13 per cent, Bloc Quebecois 11 per cent and NDP nine per cent.
Berdahl said it's not surprising to see a political gap, but noted a majority in all main parties still favour caution.
Meanwhile, 33 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds are bothered by mask-wearing requirements, compared to 13 per cent of those aged 55-plus.
"We have some groups that are perhaps a bit harder hit by some of these measures, and by some of the economic impacts. So there could be some of that coming into play," Berdahl said.
"We certainly have younger people being heavily represented in the service economy that would probably be very, very anxious to see the economy reopen a bit a bit faster."
The online and phone survey of 5,814 adults was conducted between Jan. 25 and March 1.