Abacus Data Bulletin: Parents wary and divided on return to classes

Abacus Data Bulletins are short analyses of public opinion data we collect. For more information or media interviews, contact Bruce Anderson or David Coletto.

About one in five (19%) Canadian adults has a child eligible to get to primary or secondary school in Canada this fall, including 38% of those who are between the ages of 30-44.

Based on the approach that they understand is being taken within their province in terms of pandemic related preparations, half of them would prefer not to see their kids in classrooms.

Men and women are not divided on this question: 49% of mothers and 52% of fathers prefer not to have their kids in classrooms.

Because of the smaller sample size of parents, care needs to be taken in looking at regional differences. However, it looks like opinion is fairly evenly split in BC, Ontario and Quebec, while Albertans are more likely to want to see their kids in classrooms.

Conservative voting parents (65%) prefer kids in classrooms, while Liberal (49%) and NDP (40%) parents are more hesitant.


“Throughout the pandemic, our polling has shown that Canadians want to err on the side of caution.  And even with the passage of months and declining infection rates, there is plenty of anxiety about what will happen when kids return to schools in the next couple of weeks.  Governments will be under intense scrutiny and be expected to act quickly if parents feel that protection protocols are not working and their children are at risk. So far, the level of confidence is tentative, at best.”


The survey was conducted with 278 Canadian parents of school-aged children from August 17 to 21, 2020. A random sample of panellists were invited to complete the survey from a set of partner panels based on the Lucid exchange platform. These partners are typically 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 +/- 6.0%, 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. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding.


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