Manitobans are the least satisfied with their provincial and municipal government’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis, according to a recent poll tracking the nation’s response to the pandemic.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 31/3/2020 (786 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The Free Press

For Manitoba. For 150 years.
Forever with your support.

Anniversary special: 150 days for $1.50

Manitobans are the least satisfied with their provincial and municipal government’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis, according to a recent poll tracking the nation’s response to the pandemic.

Only 64 per cent of Manitobans are satisfied with the provincial government’s response to COVID-19, while the average satisfaction across all provinces rang in at 79 per cent, buoyed in part by a 92 per cent approval in Quebec, according to the recent survey from Leger360 and the Association for Canadian Studies.

"I would say that our premier, compared to many of these other premiers, was not particularly popular going into this thing," said Leger executive vice-president Andrew Enns about Manitoba's relatively low satisfaction rate.

"At 64 per cent, that's actually fairly high compared to his general satisfaction performance rating."

The poll — which surveyed 1,590 adult Canadians randomly recruited from Leger’s online panel between last Friday and Sunday — is the second weekly report from Leger, intended to track public sentiment regarding the crisis on an ongoing basis. The poll cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet surveys are not considered random samples.

Manitoba’s government satisfaction dipped from 71 per cent from the previous week.

"I would say that there's still some work to do for the premier, just in general, to communicate a bit stronger," Enns said.

Manitoba and Saskatchewan (grouped together in the survey’s regional data) also indicated lower satisfaction with federal and municipal governments, compared to the rest of the country.

Two-thirds of Prairie respondents said they were satisfied with the federal response compared to a 70 per cent national average, while 63 per cent reported being satisfied with their municipal government compared to a 67 per cent national average.

The poll noted that fears of the virus intensified across the country, with 73 per cent of Canadians responding that they were afraid an immediate family member will contract COVID-19, compared to 69 per cent the week before.

Similarly, the percentage of the population who believe the issue is being "blown out of proportion" decreased from 20 per cent to 17 per cent.

"Week over week, we're seeing more deaths, and this is bringing home some of the harsh reality of this situation," said Enns, noting that the rise in emergency measures across the country have likely also encouraged Canadians to take the virus seriously.

"These sorts of things, even if people don't know exactly what all is entailed, when these measures are introduced they sound pretty serious, so I think that's having an impact on people and starting to hit home a little closer."

Manitoba and Saskatchewan are on par with national numbers with respect to the severity of the crisis, though respondents in the Prairie provinces tended to be less concerned about contracting the virus themselves, with 35 per cent citing the virus as a major threat to personal health compared to 45 per cent of the national population.

As concerns about the potential impacts of the virus rise, most Canadians are adjusting their behaviour based on government recommendations, the poll suggests, but while the two Prairie provinces were on par with the nation with respect to social distancing, hand-washing and cough etiquette, they trail behind the rest of the country when it comes to staying in their own homes and encouraging others to follow the social-distancing rules.

As most Manitobans follow guidelines and continue to take the COVID-19 pandemic seriously, 70 per cent of Prairie respondents acknowledged that the worst of this situation is still yet to come.

Julia-Simone Rutgers

Julia-Simone Rutgers

Julia-Simone Rutgers is a general-assignment reporter.