Canadians approve of Haiti response: poll

A clear majority of Canadians believe the federal government's response to Haiti's deadly earthquake was "just right," a poll conducted exclusively for CBC News indicates.
An EKOS poll indicates 66 per cent of Canadians think the government's response to Haiti's devastating earthquake on Jan. 12 was "just right." ((EKOS))

A clear majority of Canadians believe the government's response to Haiti's deadly earthquake was "just right," a poll done exclusively for CBC News indicates.

The poll, conducted from Jan. 20 to Jan. 26, asked respondents: "As you may have heard, Haiti has recently suffered from a devastating earthquake. From what you know, do you believe that the government of Canada's response to this disaster has been too slow, too fast, or just right?"

A Canadian soldier carries supplies to a medical centre in Port-au-Prince in Haiti on Jan. 16.

Sixty-six per cent of respondents answered "just right," while 16 per cent felt the government's response was" too slow" and seven per cent, "too fast." Ten per cent were undecided.

The poll was begun eight days after the Jan. 12 quake and conducted for CBC TV's current affairs program Power and Politics with Evan Solomon.

"Clearly, there is both broad sympathy with the human devastation and a strong sense that the Canadian government's response has been both swift and generous," EKOS president Frank Graves told CBC News.

But Canadians who identified themselves as Conservatives were more likely to favour the government's response than their Liberal or NDP counterparts.

More than 78 per cent of Conservative-leaning respondents answered "just right," compared with 66 per cent of Liberal respondents and 57 per cent of New Democrats.

Geographically, support for the government response was highest in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, at 73 per cent. It was lowest in British Columbia, at 62 per cent.

Slim majority approve resources

Asked about the resources given to the relief and reconstruction efforts in Haiti, a slim majority, or 51 per cent, of respondents felt it was "just the right amount." Eleven per cent felt the government should have given less, while 18 per cent felt it should have given more. A fifth of Canadians said they didn't know.

The poll suggests support is lukewarm at best for Canada's actions in the area of immigration. On Jan. 16, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced Canada would speed up immigration requests from Haitians with family in Canada and allow Haitians in Canada temporarily to extend their stays.

Asked if the government should "temporarily loosen its rules to allow more Haitians to settle permanently here," 16 per cent strongly agreed it should, while 21 per cent answered it should certainly not. Of the remaining 63 per cent of respondents, almost half said they somewhat agreed, 22 per cent said they somewhat disagreed and just under 10 per cent said they didn't know.

Finally, fully 63 per cent of poll respondents agreed the government should focus on long-term assistance to rebuild the Caribbean country, compared with 37 per cent who would prefer short-term humanitarian assistance be the focus.

Overall, "what is clear is that there is a strong sense that the government has done well in the initial stages of the Haiti crisis," Graves said.

EKOS surveyed 3,206 Canadians over the age 18 from across the country. The margin of error for this survey was plus or minus 1.7 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.