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Poverty and affordable housing are also seen among the three most pressing social issues facing the country.

This research is dedicated to the memory of Port Moody teenager Gwynevere Staddon. Our goal is to raise the bar on awareness and education, and to inspire governments, stakeholder groups, citizens, parents and youth to take action and prevent further losses from this devastating problem.

Vancouver, BC – Addiction—whether involving drugs, fentanyl, prescription opiates or alcohol—is regarded as one of the most pressing social issues facing the country, a new Canada-wide Insights West poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative national sample, Canadians were asked to outline the three most important social issues facing the country today. Seven-in-ten (71%) included poverty in their ranking, followed by affordable housing (68%), addiction (66%), immigration (62%), racism and race relations (61%), homelessness (also 61%) and smoking and tobacco use (60%).

Three-in-ten Canadians (30%) say addiction has impacted them personally or people close to them. The number is similar for poverty (34%) and smoking and tobacco use (31%), but lower for racism (20%) and homelessness (18%).

There are some striking regional differences in the data, with 81% of British Columbians, 76% of Albertans and 73% of Ontarians including affordable housing on their list. In stark contrast, 81% of Quebecers and 78% of Atlantic Canadians mentioned poverty, while 85% in Saskatchewan and Manitoba focused on tobacco.

“Drug addiction in general, and fentanyl in particular, have been discussed prominently as a result of recent developments in urban areas,” says Mario Canseco, Vice President, Public Affairs, at Insights West. “The fact that almost a third of Canadians have personally experienced the impacts of addiction outlines the severity of the problem.”

Taking Action

Across the country, 86% of Canadians voiced support for opening more spaces for drug rehabilitation for people who may require it, and 84% are in favour of launching an education and awareness campaign about fentanyl.

When it comes to naloxone—a medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose—three-in-four Canadians (75%) support making it available to community workers, and three-in-five (62%) would allow it to be provided without a prescription.

A majority of Canadians would also push for stronger penalties against people who import and traffic drugs (86%) and restrict access to devices involved with drug production, such as pill presses and tableting machines (74%).

Seven-in-ten Canadians (72%) would also like to see a reduction in the number of prescriptions of opioids.

“I believe there should be stiffer sentences for drug dealers, but we also need more counsellors and there should be mandatory rehab for youth,” said Veronica Staddon, Gwynevere’s mother. “We also need to clean up all the sites to ensure drug dealers are not able to access their customers.”

“Our collective mindset around pharmaceuticals also has to change,” continues Staddon. “There is an overall belief that we need drugs for everything. In my view, opiates should only be used in hospital situations or for terminally ill people.”

“I miss my daughter terribly, and my heart breaks every time I see a story about another person losing their life to addiction—and I wonder how I can help rescue these people.”

About Insights West:

Insights West is a progressive, Western-based, full-service marketing research company. It exists to serve the market with insights-driven research solutions and interpretive analysis through leading-edge tools, normative databases, and senior-level expertise across a broad range of public and private sector organizations. Insights West is based in Vancouver and Calgary.

Most of our surveys are conducted through our Your Insights panel. The Your Insights panel is comprised of 30,000 Canadians who share their opinions on a variety of political, economic, social and other issues while earning the opportunity to get paid and win great prizes. If you’re interested in joining, please register at

About this Release:

Results are based on an online study conducted from September 6 to September 8, 2016, among a representative sample of 1,013 Canadian adults. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.1 percentage points. Click here to view the detailed data tabulations.

For further information, please contact:

Mario Canseco
Vice President, Public Affairs, Insights West


Photograph: Imogene Huxham