As we enter year two of the COVID-19 pandemic, and pandemic fatigue has really set in, the only thing that has held steady has been Canadians perception of how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has handled it. His approval ratings soared at the beginning, and held steady at just over 50 per cent for the latter half of 2020.
The only real hope on the horizon is the promise of a vaccine and the arrival of the critical doses has not been a steady roll out. It’s been fits and starts and delays and confusion.
And Trudeau is paying for it politically.
Angus Reid polling reports that the number of people who say Canada has done a poor job of supplying the vaccine to its provinces and territories has doubled from 23 to 44 per cent in a month.
Angus notes that those identifying as Conservative voters are at 71 per cent in not being impressed with the government’s job, and those who lean more left are a little less quick to condemn.
However, I am not impressed with the roll out either and I am not what one would label a Conservative.
Deals have been made and broken. Supply chains have been interrupted, and Trudeau initially offered a pretty rosy assessment of when a National Research Council facility in Montreal would be ready to produce vaccines. He said November 2020 at first and the latest word now is that it won’t be producing until the end of 2021.
Why don’t we have any other facilities that could produce vaccines? Good question. It’s not like SARS didn’t give us advance warning that a global pandemic could be a disaster. It was recommended at that time that Canada should have a national vaccine strategy. It didn’t happen.
Now that’s not Trudeau’s fault. He wasn’t PM then.
But it’s his problem now, and over promising and under delivering is giving him a quick ride to dropping polls.
And most Canadians want that vaccine.
Fifty-six per cent of those polled (who are willing to take the vaccine) said that it’s crucially important to be vaccinated. In fact they said it’s the only thing that will really end this pandemic. A further 40 per cent said it was important though not a magic bullet. Only three per cent said it would make much difference.
Right now, according to Angus Reid, only two per cent of Canadians have been vaccinated.
And confidence in the government’s ability to right the ship is dropping. In December 58 per cent of Canadians were very confident the vaccine rollout would be managed effectively. That number has dropped to 45 per cent in January. That’s a significant drop.
Once the vaccine finally arrives in a province it is then up to the provincial government to get it to its residents.
And there is quite a difference between provinces on this. B.C. residents feel fairly confident, in that 57 per cent believe the government will effectively manage to distribute the vaccines. Right next door, our friends in Alberta are only 35 per cent confident on the same question. That’s the lowest confidence in the country, although Manitobans at 39 per cent are also not expecting great things from their provincial government.
But across the board, except for Ontario where it’s split down the middle, Canadians are more confident in their provincial governments than they are in the federal.
However, last week, Federal Procurement Ministry Anita Ahand said that the delays in the Pfizer vaccine delivery were mostly behind us and that the vaccine manufacturers have assured her things were back on track.
Justin Trudeau better hope she’s right.