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BC Residents Show Strong Support for Premier Horgan’s Plan to Gradually Re-Open the Province (79%), but a Significant Number (41%) Think the Re-Opening is Too Fast

The public is very supportive of resuming elective surgeries (91% timing is acceptable or should have been sooner), opening of provincial parks (78%), and are divided on re-opening of salons (60%) and retail stores (66%) but are less supportive of small social gatherings (50%) and re-opening of restaurants (49%).

Vancouver, BC —On Wednesday Premier John Horgan unveiled a plan for a gradual re-opening of the Province, which has been met with an overwhelming endorsement of BC residents at least conceptually, according to a new Insights West poll conducted with 747 BC residents immediately after the press conference. However, many residents feel the re-opening is proceeding too quickly, and there is some resistance towards social gatherings of small groups, eating at restaurants, in-person schooling, and hair salons.

There is an extremely high level of support for John Horgan’s announced plan to gradually re-open the province as announced on Wednesday May 6, 2020. A total of 79% back the plan, which is made up of 32% who ‘strongly support’ the plan and a further 47% who ‘somewhat support’ the plan. Only 18% are opposed to the plan, including 5% who ‘strongly oppose’ the plan. Younger British Columbians, while still supportive of the plan are a little less so than their older counterparts (68% of those 18-34 support versus 81% of 35-54 and 84% of 55+).

Despite this support, BC residents are also erring on the side of caution as a far greater number say the pace of the plan is too fast (41%) compared to only a fraction who believe it is proceeding too slowly (10%). Nearly half (46%) believe the pace of re-opening is just right. Again, younger British Columbians are more critical with 53% of 18-34 believing the plan to be too fast (versus 38% 35-54 and 37% 55+) and only 38% the pace being just right (versus 47% 35-54% and 50% 55+).

“Rarely in polling do we find support above 70% for any public initiative that is announced by a standing Premier” says Steve Mossop, president of Insights West. “John Horgan can rest assured that the public is backing his plan—and if anything, he should continue to proceed ultra-cautiously, as BC residents are leaning towards a very conservative approach of ‘returning to normal’ in the Province of BC as this pandemic unfolds.”

There were a number of individual elements that were announced Wednesday as ‘Phase Two’ of the re-opening of the BC economy, and the majority of BC residents are supportive of the timing for about half the initiatives announced, while the other half many felt they should be delayed. The strongest support is for re-starting elective surgeries—the majority (60%) find the plan acceptable, but this is also the area with the largest number (31%) who feel that it should have been allowed sooner. The majority (49%) are also in favour of opening provincial parks for day use, but 29% think that should have been announced sooner. Dentistry, chiropractic, physiotherapy and in-person counselling appointments is another category where a large number (70%) are supportive of the re-opening of, with a relatively smaller number (16%) who think it should have been done sooner.

Other openings are mixed in terms of the response from BC residents. People are divided about hair salons re-opening (35% think they should be opening later vs. 53% thinking the current plan is acceptable). A similar proportion are supportive of retail stores opening (58%), although many would prefer the opening to be delayed (27%).

Gatherings of small groups of people is the one relaxation of rules that is met with the most opposition—47% think that it should be allowed later, and only 43% think the plan is acceptable as is (7% think it should have been sooner). People are also reluctant about restaurant re-openings—with nearly half (45%) thinking that it is too soon vs. 45% who think it is acceptable now (4% think it should have been sooner).

Insights West tested the waters to assess personal willingness to engage in fifteen more specific aspects of a phased re-opening of the BC economy, and results suggest that the phased approach is necessary, as there is a wide variance in terms of which activities people are willing to participate in sooner versus later.

The majority are comfortable in mid-May to visit a provincial park (76%), play outdoor sports (72%), use dentists/chiropractors/physiotherapists/in-person counselling (68%), visit retail stores (60%, attend social gatherings with a small group of family (59%) or friends (56%), make trips within BC (55%) or go back to work in their usual work environment (55%).

In contrast, most BC residents do not feel comfortable making a trip to another Canadian province (74%), visiting indoor (72%) or outdoor (53%) tourist destinations, eating in restaurants (65%), sending their children to school (61%), or playing indoor sports (53%).

“Generally speaking, the phased approach of re-opening the Province of BC is supported overall, but the individual comfort level with different aspects of re-opening is widely varied” says Steve Mossop, president of Insights West. “People are more cautious than I had anticipated, and the Province will have to consider each sector activity separately in terms of public reaction and participation.”

About Insights West:

Insights West is a full-service marketing research firm based in Western Canada. Since 2012, the company has conducted over one million surveys, executed 2,000 studies, and issued over 350 press releases on a variety of topics, correctly predicting the outcomes of 24 out of 25 elections and plebiscites. Insights West is a team of passionate, truth-seeking researchers who question everything to uncover the truth and what is emerging for a diverse set of clients. With an understanding of shifting markets, consumer and societal trends, and commitment to uncovering truths through a proprietary toolkit and innovative research approaches, Insights West helps organizations make better decisions.

About this Release:

Results are based on an online study conducted from May 6, 2020 to May 7, 2020 among a sample of 747 BC residents. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.6 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies between totals are due to rounding. Click HERE to view the detailed data tabulations.

For further information, please contact:

Steve Mossop
Insights West