As the reopening of the economy proceeds, new Statistics Canada research finds that most Canadians are on board with taking precautions, such as wearing masks in public to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Indeed, many are reluctant to get back to work at all without further safety measures in place.
In its study, the agency reported that 38% of respondents said they don’t feel safe returning to work. That compared to 30% who said that they do feel safe going back to work and the remaining 32% who weren’t sure.
These findings are based on the third wave of an online research project that Statistics Canada started back in March to assess the economic, health, and social consequences of the pandemic. The same respondents have been followed in each phase of the study, with the third wave carried out from June 15 to 21.
StatsCan noted that contracting the virus at work and potentially spreading it to family members were the biggest safety concerns that workers cited.
Worries about returning to work varied by region, the agency also found, with workers in the hardest-hit provinces — Ontario and Québec — reporting higher levels of concern.
And, workers in urban areas expressed greater concern than those in rural regions.
To improve safety, 72% of respondents said they’d like to see increased workplace sanitization, and 70% want employers to order employees with any signs of illness to stay home.
Further, about 60% would like to see other measures taken by employers, such as modifications to allow physical distancing, protective equipment, and illness screening.
The research also found that most Canadians expect to continue following recommended safety practices and limiting social interactions to stem the spread of the virus, but that this varies by age and gender.
For instance, StatsCan reported that most respondents (65%) said that they will wear masks in public where it’s difficult to maintain physical distance.
But older respondents (aged 65+) are much more willing to wear masks than younger groups. The study found that 78% of older respondents said they’d wear a mask, compared with just 53% of those aged 15-24.
It also found that women are notably more willing to wear masks than men, with 72% of female respondents planning to wear a mask versus 59% of male respondents.
StatsCan also found regional differences here, with respondents in Ontario much more willing to wear masks (78%), compared with just over half of respondents from Québec and the Prairies (52% and 54%, respectively).
City dwellers are also more likely to wear masks than those living in rural areas, at 68% versus 53%, respectively.