A national survey suggests that the majority of respondents in Alberta and Saskatchewan support proof of vaccination in public spaces — despite both provinces' premiers resisting the idea in the past.
In Alberta, which had 152 people respond to the survey, 54 per cent of respondents agreed that mandatory proof of vaccination in public places was a good idea. That was up from 48 per cent in May and after dipping to just 40 per cent in July, before the third wave took hold.
In neighbouring Saskatchewan, where Premier Scott Moe has said his government will not be requiring proof of vaccination to visit businesses or participate in public activities, 51 per cent of the 125 people who responded to the poll supported requiring proof of vaccination — compared with 46 per cent in May.
The online poll by the Angus Reid Institute surveyed 1,709 Canadians from Sept. 3 to Sept. 6 on vaccine passports and incentives, among other issues.
Dave Korzinski, research director at Angus Reid, says since spring, support for mandatory vaccination in public spaces has grown by 15 percentage points nationwide — from 55 per cent in May to 70 per cent in early September.
"In May, we started asking about mandatory vaccination. It has always been relatively high for international travel purposes, travelling to the U.S., getting on any sort of airline flight," he said.
This time around, Korzinski said, at least two-thirds of respondents said they supported vaccine passports to be implemented in a variety of scenarios, including travel, public events, malls, movie theatres, restaurants and at the workplace.
The most significant increases were in B.C., Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada.
More support for regulation than incentives
Korzinski said he suspects the increase in support for proof of vaccination in Alberta is down to the fact that it's been hit hard by the fourth wave of COVID-19 cases and has lower levels of vaccination than some other parts of Canada.
As of Wednesday morning, Alberta's COVID-19 cases had climbed to 15,486 active cases with only 60 per cent of all Albertans (or 70.6 per cent of those eligible to get the vaccine) having received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
"The vast majority of those people who are vaccinated think you should have to prove it," he said. "So, they're looking at it as an extra measure of safety … they've done their part, and they're trying to figure out how to get other people to kind of join them."
According to the survey, 77 per cent of responders across the country agreed that provincial governments should use regulatory measures, rather than incentives, to increase vaccination.
When asked how those who refuse to show vaccination proof at a restaurant and refuse to leave should be handled, 44 per cent of respondents agreed with the statement that the person should be escorted off property while 29 per cent agreed they should receive a fine.
For comparison purposes only, a probabilistic sample of the size of this survey would yield a margin of error of +/– eight percentage points.
Several provinces have opted for proof of vaccination
Several provinces have already introduced proof-of-vaccination measures, including Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia.
However, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has said that Alberta would not bring in vaccine passports in part because it would contravene the province's Health Information Act.
Instead, Kenney announced last Friday that the government would offer a $100 incentive to motivate those who are not fully vaccinated to get their jabs.
"I wish we didn't have to do this, but this is not a time for moral judgments. This is a time to get people vaccinated," Kenney said.
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