Vaccine Vexation: Confidence in Trudeau government’s procurement, distribution of COVID-19 vaccine plummets

by David Korzinski | January 28, 2021 7:30 pm

Number of Canadians saying Liberals doing a “poor job” procuring vaccine near doubles since December

January 29, 2021 – Is now the winter of our vaccine distribution discontent? As questions and criticism[1] over the federal government’s decisions and handling of its COVID-19 vaccine rollout intensify, new data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute find faltering confidence and souring moods.

Indeed, while just six weeks ago a firm majority of Canadians (58%) said they were confident in the federal government’s ability to circulate the vaccine throughout the country, just 45 per cent hold this view now.

Amid shipment delays and increasing concerns about future supplies of Health Canada-approved vaccines, anxiety is rising over the country’s ability to meet national vaccination targets. Just 36 per cent of Canadians now say they feel the federal government has done a “good job” in securing sufficient doses for the population, down 11 points from December, while the number saying “poor job” has nearly doubled.

Much of the responsibility for vaccination also falls on provincial governments, who are delegated to prioritize access and organize delivery. Just 51 per cent of Canadians are confident in their respective provincial government to effectively do so, with proportions dropping below a majority in Alberta (35%), Manitoba (39%), and Ontario (44%).

More Key Findings:


About ARI

The Angus Reid Institute (ARI) was founded in October 2014 by pollster and sociologist, Dr. Angus Reid. ARI is a national, not-for-profit, non-partisan public opinion research foundation established to advance education by commissioning, conducting and disseminating to the public accessible and impartial statistical data, research and policy analysis on economics, political science, philanthropy, public administration, domestic and international affairs and other socio-economic issues of importance to Canada and its world.



Part One: Vaccine enthusiasm plateaus

Part Two: Government performance


Part One: Vaccine enthusiasm plateaus

Willingness to receive immediate vaccination stays constant

The optimism around Canada’s December vaccination efforts soured in January. No doses[2] of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine were delivered this week, and less than one-third of planned doses are set to arrive next week. This, as European leaders discuss export controls[3] that some worry may further hinder supply in coming months.

As many Canadians wait longer than planned for their second doses of the vaccine, the federal government has insisted[4] that all Canadians who want one will receive a vaccine by September of this year.

For three-in-five Canadians, inoculation cannot come soon enough. This number is unchanged from earlier in January, when Angus Reid Institute data showed a considerable increase in enthusiasm for inoculation. One-in-five Canadians (19%) are still watching others before they commit, but say they will eventually get the vaccine:

Alberta continues to hold the highest proportion of those that would not get vaccinated. One-in-three (36%) Alberta residents now say this, a number that has increased 16 percentage points since early January[5] (see detailed tables[6]).

Is vaccination necessary for a return to normal?

Among the 86 per cent of Canadians that have indicated they will or may get vaccinated, over half (56%) say it is ‘crucially important’ in order for their lives to return to normal. Two-in-five of this group appear slightly less optimistic, saying that vaccination is ‘important’ for this reason, but acknowledge that it is not a ‘magic bullet’ to end pandemic life.

Part Two: Government performance

Negative reviews of the government’s effort to secure doses nearly double

The delays and uncertainty over how much vaccine will arrive in Canada, and when, has dealt hammer blows to perceptions of the federal government’s handling of this file. The announcement on December 9th by Health Canada that it had approved the first COVID-19 vaccine is now something of a distant memory, and Canadians are focused on whether the vaccine rollout in their country is “keeping up”[7] with operations south of the border and overseas.

The impact has been significant, with the proportion who say Canada has done a “poor job” of securing sufficient doses almost doubling from 23 to 44 per cent since December.

As is often the case, politics factors into perceptions of the Trudeau government’s performance. Among those who intend to vote for the Conservatives in the next election, seven-in-ten (71%) say it has done a poor job of procuring vaccines. Voters who intend to back the Liberals or the NDP are more positive in their assessment.

*Please note small sample size should be interpreted with caution

Confidence in vaccine distribution

Federal government

Acquiring sufficient doses of precious vaccine is only part of the task for federal, provincial, and territorial governments. Delivering them efficiently to where they need to be is the other crucial task.

At the time of this writing, Canada has vaccinated approximately two per cent of its population. While this progress beats that of several other G7 countries such as Germany and France, some critics[8] have complained that many others, like the U.S. and the U.K., are further ahead. Moreover, as the Pfizer vaccine delay spells shortages across the country, Ontario Premier Doug Ford[9] and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe[10] have criticized the Prime Minister for not pressing Pfizer hard enough to prioritize Canadian shipments.

Canadians have grown more critical on this measure as well. In December, almost three-in-five (58%) were “confident” or “very confident” in the federal government’s ability to manage distribution. Today, that number has plummeted 13 points to less than half (45%).

Looking at this metric through the lens of political preference once again yields stark differences. Four-in-five (79%) voters who plan to support the CPC have little or no confidence in the government’s ability to handle distribution, a proportion that is mirrored by the clear majority (69%) of Liberal voters who say the opposite.

*Please note small sample size should be interpreted with caution

Provincial governments

The speed and efficacy of vaccine distribution depends largely on provincial governments, however. Canadian confidence in their own provincial governments’ abilities to get this process right varies a great deal. While people living in Atlantic Canada, Quebec, and BC are most likely to give their own respective government’s a shot in the arm on this measure, those in Alberta and Manitoba are more skeptical:

Comparing views of provincial governments with views of the federal government on distribution efforts, most of the country offers more faith to their province than the federal Liberals. This divide is starkest in Saskatchewan, where only 23 per cent say they are confident in the federal government compared to half (53%) who believe the Saskatchewan Party will do a good job.

Canadians more likely to view Pfizer delay as minor than major setback

Earlier this month, Pfizer announced that its vaccine shipments to Canada would be cut in half[11] over four weeks, saying it would later ramp up deliveries to make up the difference by the end of March. Experts have warned there would inevitably be some delays[12] with vaccine deliveries. Understandable or not, with lives on the line this was certainly not good news. Canadians are more likely to see this a minor setback than a major one, but only a small minority (16%) say it’s “not a big deal”.

Backers of the CPC and the Bloc Québécois have a more dire outlook of this delay: majorities of each group characterize it as a major setback (51% and 57% respectively). Those who favour the Liberals or the NDP are more sanguine, and tend to see this as a minor setback (56% and 62% respectively) (see detailed tables[13]).

Age is also a significant driver of concern. Among those who are older, vaccination is a more imminent prospect, and the risks of infection much higher. Their interpretation of the delay is correspondingly darker. Half (49%) of those who are 65 and older think of the delay as a major setback:

It appears that many of the people who think of the Pfizer delay as a significant problem place some of the blame with the Trudeau administration. Among this group, three-quarters (73%) say the federal government has done poorly in acquiring enough vaccine doses:

Further, negative perceptions of how this holdup is being handled is associated with increased criticism of the government’s capability to efficiently manage distribution. Canadians who see the delay as a major setback are far less likely to have confidence in the federal distribution efforts.

For detailed results by age, gender, region, education, and other demographics, click here.[14]

For detailed results by current vote intention, click here.[15]

For detailed results by perception of Pfizer shipment delays, click here.[16]

To read the full report, including detailed tables and methodology, click here.[17]

To read the questionnaire, click here.[18]



Shachi Kurl, President: 1.604.908.1693[19] @shachikurl

Dave Korzinski, Research Director: 250.899.0821[20]

  1. questions and criticism:
  2. No doses:
  3. export controls:
  4. has insisted:
  5. early January:
  6. see detailed tables:
  7. “keeping up”:
  8. some critics:
  9. Ontario Premier Doug Ford:
  10. Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe:
  11. cut in half:
  12. inevitably be some delays:
  13. see detailed tables:
  14. click here.:
  15. click here.:
  16. click here.:
  17. click here.:
  18. click here.:

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