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Canadians Supportive of Wide-Ranging Measures to Battle COVID-19, Including Some Surveillance

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Canadians Supportive of Wide-Ranging Measures to Battle COVID-19

Majority Supports Stricter Physical-Distancing Measures and Fines (85%), Limits on Personal Freedom of Movement (76%) and Use of Cellphone Data to Track Movements of Those Supposed to be Quarantining (65%)

Toronto, ONTARIO — Canadians are supportive of a wide-range of measures to battle the spread of COVID-19 in Canada, according to a new Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of Global News. Canadians were presented with a list of measures that government could be or is considering to help fight the spread of COVID-19, including further limiting personal freedoms and even increasing surveillance of individuals to ensure compliance with quarantine orders.

A consensus has emerged when it comes to supporting the use of the military to help build field hospitals, or using empty hotels to house the homeless. But a majority even support more contentious moves, such as the potential for the federal government to use cellphone data to monitor the movement of Canadians who should be in self-isolation.

The chart below outlines the proportion of Canadians who support or oppose the use of various tactics to address the spread of COVID-19 in Canada:

 Support for Measures to Contain COVID-19 Action

% Support (Strongly/somewhat)

% oppose (Strongly/Somewhat)


Calling in the military to build field hospitals for COVID-19 patients


90% (45%/45%)


10% (2%/7%)


Using empty hotels to house the homeless


87% (44%/43%)


13% (3%/10%)


Stricter physical-distancing measures enforced by legislation


85% (44%/41%)


15% (4%/11%)


Large fines for people breaking physical-distancing laws or regulations


85% (47%/38%)


15% (4%/11%)


Running whatever size federal deficit the Prime Minister says is necessary to get Canada through this crisis


84% (35%/48%)


16% (4%/13%)


Limits on my personal movement (i.e. laws restricting who can leave their home)


76% (32%/44%)


24% (7%/18%)


The federal government using cellphone data to monitor the movement of Canadians who are supposed to be quarantining in mandatory self-isolation


65% (31%/34%)


35% (13%/22

Six In Ten Voters Support Cell Phone Tracking

In fact, there is a political consensus emerging on all of these issues among Canadians, meaning that a majority of every party’s supporters and a majority of Canadians in every major demographic group (age, gender, region) support the provisions tested. For example:

  • Even 64% of Conservative voters support the Prime Minister running whatever deficit he deems necessary to get Canada through this crisis.
  • At least six in ten voters of every party support cellphone-tracking surveillance to monitor the movement of Canadians supposed to be in quarantine. At 53%, Albertans are the least likely to support this measure, although a slim majority do. Similarly, Canadians aged 18-34 are least supportive among the age group studied, but still, a majority do support this course of action (55%).

About the Study

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between April 3 and 7, 2020, on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a sample of 1006 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed online. Quotas and weighting were employed to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the Canadian population according to census parameters. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ± 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians aged 18+ been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

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