British Columbia

British Columbians worst in Canada at following COVID-19 rules all the time, new poll suggests

New poll results show a significant number of Canadians are planning to bend COVID-19 rules over spring break and that when it comes to breaking those rules year-round, British Columbians are one of the worst offenders.

National survey also shows many Canadians plan on bending rules over spring break

A new poll by Insights West shows about 23 per cent of Canadians are considering skiing at a resort outside their home community this spring break, despite COVID-19 rules and guidelines. However, B.C.'s provincial health officer has said it's not so much the outdoor activity as the after parties that are the problem. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

New poll results show a significant number of Canadians are planning to bend COVID-19 rules over spring break and that when it comes to breaking those rules year-round, British Columbians are one of the worst offenders.

According to an Insights West survey of about 1,600 Canadians conducted online in early February, only 48 per cent of people claim to be following COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines all the time.

In B.C., that number drops to 34 per cent — which is 14 to 22 points lower than other provinces.

People responding to the survey could choose to say they followed the rules all of the time, nearly all of the time, most of the time, some of the time, rarely or were not sure.

B.C. did have the highest number of people say they followed the restrictions "nearly all of the time" (48 per cent compared to between 24 per cent and 36 per cent in other regions). Seven per cent of British Columbians say they rarely or never play by the rules.

Reasons for rule-breaking

Insights West also asked Canadians what their reasons are for rule-breaking and the number one response at 39 per cent was because people feel they are keeping their bubbles small and still doing the right thing.

Pandemic fatigue was also given as a reason for some of the rule-breaking going on across the country.

One-third of respondents said to stay happy and mentally healthy, they are breaking the rules occasionally and 28 per cent say they are just tired of all the rules and feel it is fine to bend them.

Other reasons included being confused by the rules (27 per cent), feeling the rules are unnecessary (23 per cent), and believing their health risk if they get COVID-19 is low (18 per cent).

To hear more from British Columbians about following COVID-19 rules and restrictions, click here:

Insights West president Steve Mossop and Dr. Madhu Jawanda, a family physician and member of the South Asian COVID Task Force, discuss a survey suggesting that British Columbia is one of the worst provinces in Canada when it comes to COVID rule compliance, and how "pandemic fatigue" may be leading to complacency. Master gardener Brian Minter answers your gardening questions. 50:32

"When it comes down to it, less than half of us are serious about following all of the rules, and that is problematic if we want to see a faster decline of the numbers," said Steve Mossop, president of Insights West, in a statement.

Only 34 per cent of B.C. residents claim they are following all of the rules all of the time, which is 14 to 22 points lower than in other regions. (Insights West)

The results of the survey were released Friday, the same day Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam warned that COVID-19 variants could drive a resurgence in coronavirus cases across the country without stronger public health measures to prevent their spread.

Spring break concerns

Dr. Madhu Jawanda said the results of the survey are concerning as spring break draws near. At most B.C. public schools, spring break will run from March 13 to 28.

"It's human nature, human beings get tired," she told BC Today guest host Belle Puri.

The survey gauged how people plan on spending their spring break and the responses would not please provincial health officers.

Insights West asked about a list of possible spring break activities that would constitute bending various provincial government guidelines and 63 per cent of Canadians asked said they planned on engaging in at least one.

Fifty-percent of people are considering visiting indoors with other households, up to one in three might drive to a vacation destination outside their community, and about one in six may get on a plane.

British Columbians were the least likely to say they planned to fly over spring break, particularly when compared to people in Ontario and Quebec.

Jawanda urges British Columbians to continue to follow recommendations from the provincial government. 

"We have to follow science and we have to follow evidence," she said, noting that new variants have been found to be more transmissible.

"All we can do is control ourselves. All we can do is continue social distancing and masking until we get the vaccines going. My fear is that if we become a bit more complacent then there will be a surge and a potential third wave."

Of about 1,600 Canadians surveyed by Insights West, about one in six are thinking of taking a flight to visit family within their province (19 per cent), a flight to a vacation in Canada (18 per cent), a flight to a vacation destination outside Canada (16 per cent) or elsewhere in Canada to visit relatives (16 per cent) during spring break. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Across the country, rule-breaking considerations around spring break or otherwise are substantially higher among 18- to 34-year-olds relative to any other age group, according to poll results.

The survey was conducted Feb. 3-7 and a comparable margin of error for a probability-based sample of its size would be +/- 2.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

As of Friday afternoon, there were 4,486 active cases of COVID-19 in B.C.

With files from BC Today

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