Support for vaccine passports grows, seven-in-ten Canadians now support it in public spaces

by David Korzinski | September 7, 2021 9:00 pm

Half of vaccinated Canadians now say unvaccinated do not deserve same priority for medical treatment

September 8, 2021 – The fourth wave of COVID-19 in Canada is being called a pandemic of the unvaccinated[1].

While breakthrough infections of the vaccinated are perhaps more common than health officials had initially hoped, recent reports have stated that approximately 90 per cent[2] of new cases are now among the unvaccinated – driven by the highly contagious Delta variant. In British Columbia, newly released data suggests that unvaccinated individuals are 34 times more likely[3] to be hospitalized than vaccinated people of the same age.

Amid these challenges, new data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds rising support for proof of vaccination to enter public spaces as Canadians – the vast majority of whom are vaccinated – look for ways to end the fourth wave[4] and the renewed restrictions that have accompanied it.

Perhaps most surprisingly, support for proof of vaccination in public spaces is now a majority opinion in both Alberta and Saskatchewan, where Premiers Jason Kenney and Scott Moe have denounced the idea[5]. In fact, 54 per cent of Albertans now support proof of vaccination in public spaces, up from just 40 per cent in late July.

Frustration within the largely vaccinated public is clear, with unvaccinated Canadians filling ICUs and forcing the continued cancellation of elective surgeries[6] in multiple provinces[7]. Now, half of vaccinated Canadians (46%) say that they do not believe that unvaccinated individuals should receive the same priority for treatment if they are sick with COVID-19. This worst case scenario has been discussed in some American jurisdictions[8] as ICU capacity has diminished, but so far triage based on vaccination status has remained only a discussion[9].

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: Support for vaccine passports rises

Part Two: Regulation vs. incentives to increase vaccination rate

Part Three: How to handle unvaccinated rulebreakers

Part Four: Vaccination and medical treatment priority


Part One: Support for vaccine passports rises

Vaccine passports are becoming the rule rather than the exception. While the idea has been rejected[10] as necessary to enter public spaces in Alberta and Saskatchewan, other provinces have announced or implemented[11] their programs already. In Atlantic Canada, discussions continue[12] about how best to approach the issue.

Canadians are largely on board with the concept now, and at least two-thirds support the implementation of vaccine passports for each scenario they were presented with, from workplaces to large sporting events:

What is perhaps most notable about these data is the shift in opinion since spring. The number of Canadians comfortable with proof of vaccination at public spaces in their community has increased 15 percentage points, from 55 per cent to 70 per cent. Meanwhile, support for the use of vaccine passports for international travel remains high:

While provinces are taking different approaches to this issue, there is widespread agreement that proof of vaccination is worth pursuing. While Albertans and Saskatchewanians lean only slightly toward supporting passports in their communities, the rest of the country shows a strong preference:

While support for proof of vaccination has increased in every region of the country, the most significant increases have been registered in B.C., Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada.

The size of a given event appears to be a determining factor for many Canadians when thinking about this issue. In the scenario where attendance exceeds 50 people, relatively strong support for proof of vaccination exists in most of the country:

Part Two: Regulation vs. incentives to increase vaccination rate

A small portion of the population continues to voice dissent toward the idea of vaccination (see detailed tables[13]). Many public health officials and governments are nonetheless attempting to persuade this group. Asked what sort of strategy they would prefer to encourage the unvaccinated to get the jab, the idea of increasing regulation (e.g., requiring proof of vaccination) is preferred at a much higher rate than incentive-based programs. In Alberta, the province with the lowest vaccination rate[14] in the country, the government recently announced that each individual who receives their first or second shot – up until Oct. 14[15] – will qualify for a $100 pre-loaded debit card.

Part Three: How to handle unvaccinated rulebreakers

The challenging aspect of regulations – whether mask mandates or proof of vaccination requirements – has been felt by both large and small businesses in Canadian communities. In some cases, service industry workers have been harassed[16] for requesting compliance with measures.

In situations where a person is defying the proof of vaccination mandate in their community, Canadians are divided about how they would like to see the situation handled. For two-in-five (44%) just removing the person from the premises is enough. That said, a similarly sized group are divided between fining the person for their actions (29%) and arresting them and charging them with a crime (19%):

Notably, women and men over the age of 54 disagree most about what should happen in this scenario. Vaccinated older men are most likely to say that individuals should be arrested and charged (26%), while vaccinated older women are most likely to say that these people should be escorted out but face no additional punishment:

Part Four: Vaccination and medical treatment priority

In the face of rapidly growing infections and ICU admissions due to the Delta variant of COVID-19, top U.S. doctor Anthony Fauci noted on Sept. 7 that some hospitals are perilously close to making some “very tough decisions”[17] about who receives treatment. Other[18] jurisdictions have also suggested that vaccination status could play a role in their decision-making processes in the coming months, as space for care diminishes.

In Canada, while elective surgeries have been cancelled, this type of equation has yet to be realized. In the hypothetical situation where it does, half of Canadians do not believe that unvaccinated individuals should have the same claim to priority as those who have had their dose(s).

Slightly more vaccinated Canadians (54%) say that every person in the country should receive the same priority of treatment, while 46 per cent among this group say that people who chose not to be vaccinated and become sick with COVID-19 should be moved down the queue if it comes to that.

With the exception of Atlantic Canada, where two-thirds (66%) say they are committed to equal access for all, vaccinated individuals across the country are divided about this idea:

Vaccinated men 55 years of age and older and vaccinated women between the ages of 35 and 54 are most likely to say that unvaccinated Canadians should be de-prioritized if necessary, while others lean slightly toward not considering vaccination status at all:

Survey Methodology:

The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey from Sept. 3 – 6, 2021 among a representative randomized sample of 1,709 Canadian adults who are members of Angus[19] Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding. The survey was self-commissioned and paid for by ARI.

For detailed results by age, gender, region, education, and other demographics, click here[20].

To read the full report including detailed tables and methodology, click here[21].

To read the questionnaire, click here[22].

Image – Jeremy Bezanger/Unsplash


Dave Korzinski, Research Director: 250.899.0821[23]

  1. pandemic of the unvaccinated:
  2. 90 per cent:
  3. 34 times more likely:
  4. fourth wave:
  5. denounced the idea:
  6. cancellation of elective surgeries:
  7. multiple provinces:
  8. discussed in some American jurisdictions:
  9. a discussion:
  10. rejected:
  11. announced or implemented:
  12. discussions continue:
  13. see detailed tables:
  14. lowest vaccination rate:
  15. up until Oct. 14:
  16. harassed:
  17. “very tough decisions”:
  18. Other:
  19. Angus:
  20. click here:
  21. click here:
  22. click here:

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