Third Wave and More Restrictions Impact Happiness but a Happier Future Might be Right Around the Corner

When Canada moved into the third wave of the Pandemic, happiness in the country faltered. The optimism that accompanied more vaccine arrivals and the early spring in most of the country soured. Not everyone, however, is unhappy. Those who have been already vaccinated represent a significant group of happy Canadians and these two trends tell us a lot about the public mood.

As of April 21st, the average happiness score is 60.7. Not the lowest we have recorded but close. The drop in happiness follows a peak in happiness in mid-March. Rising case counts, pressure on our health care system and new restrictions in most of the country sent happiness tumbling.

Nowhere is this clearer than in Ontario. At 57.5, Ontario is the least happy place in Canada right now. Testament to the fact that happiness is a key element of the public mood at the same time that happiness was falling we also noticed key changes in evaluations of Ford and a tightening of the Ontario horserace.

Across a number of indicators, we can see that happiness dropped because Canadians became less likely to feel a sense of personal fulfillment, optimism for the future and excitement about their day. Naturally, these are exactly the kinds of things you would expect to be impacted by rising case counts and public health restrictions.

The pandemic, and how our governments respond, is unlikely to be the only driver of happiness but there is no question it is one of the most important right now. Consider that the mood of Canadians is very different depending on their vaccination status. The happiness score for those who are already vaccinated is 65.3 compared with 58.7 for those who have not been vaccinated. Being vaccinated clearly gives one more “hope” and boosts happiness.


According to Richard Jenkins: Progress on the vaccination front will no doubt hasten the end of the third wave of the pandemic and start us on the road to recovery. Perhaps Canadians were a little too hopeful that the end was near in March when happiness rose to its high point. What turned out to be a false start on the way to more happiness does give us an idea of how happy a post-pandemic Canada could be. And the high happiness level among those already vaccinated suggests it could be much happier than now.

A positive public mood, especially a euphoric one, has implications across the board. How much will it spur consumer spending? Will it increase public trust and commitment to public goods? Will political leaders get a pass on their pandemic performance by a happier public? I think we are going to find out soon.

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Our survey was conducted online with 1,900 Canadians aged 18 and over from April 16th to 21st, 2021. A random sample of panellists was invited to complete the survey from a set of partner panels based on the Lucid exchange platform. These partners are double opt-in survey panels, blended to manage out potential skews in the data from a single source.

The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 2.2%, 19 times out of 20. The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region.

This poll was conducted and paid for by Abacus Data.


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