Poll: A full recovery has to include those living in poverty and unstable condition

A new poll finds Canadians recognize the risk those in refugee camps face over COVID-19 and the need to stop the spread of the virus everywhere before a full recovery can begin.

In mid-May, Abacus Data conducted a national public opinion survey commissioned by World Vision, a global relief, development, and advocacy organization. The study explored how Canadians are feeling about the pandemic through a global lens with a focus on those living in refugee and displaced persons camps. Read World Vision’s press release here.

Here is what we found:


Most Canadians have considered the impact of the pandemic on those living in poorer countries around the world.

• 85% have thought of the pandemic impacts on those living in poor countries around the world. This includes 26% who have thought about this a great deal.
• 78% have thought about the pandemic causing greater inequality in our society. This includes 20% who have thought about this a great deal.

As Canadians have had time to process the impacts of the pandemic, many are thinking about what this means for their lives at home, but also about what it means for others around the world.

Concern about infectious disease spread around the world has increased 13-points since January 2020, when we asked the same question in another survey.

And two thirds (63%) of Canadians have been following news about COVID-19 in poorer countries, at least a little. This includes 30% who have been following these stories very or pretty closely.


A large majority of Canadians say the impacts of COVID-19 and coronavirus have much bigger consequences for those who do not have a stable home with access to healthcare.

Compared to the impact on Canadians, Canadians think the impacts of COVID-19 and coronavirus will be worse (much worse/worse) for:

• Those living in high-density communities in poor countries where lots of people live close together 73%
• Those living in communities in poor countries with limiter healthcare facilities and professionals: 73%
• Those living in war-torn regions where millions have been forced to leave their homes: 70%
• Children living in refugee or displaced persons camps: 71%
• The world’s most vulnerable populations: 71%
• Those living in refugee or displaced persons camps: 70%
• Those living in areas with high levels of poverty: 71%

The pandemic has been disrupted so many lives in Canada and many continue to worry about its impact at home. 79% describe the pandemic as a crisis unlike anything we have faced before or a very serious problem.

But most are also recognize that the impact of COVID-19 at home will be nowhere near as bad as it can be for those living in poverty and unstable living conditions around the world, including in refugee or displaced persons camps.

70% say the impact of COVID-19 on those in refugee or displaced persons camps will be much worse/worse than the impacts felt by Canadians overall.


Density is a big reason for the heightened risk. Two in three Canadians say the higher density in these camps makes it much risker for those living in there, as COVID-19 can more easily spread and easily spread to a larger number of people.

Altogether, 90% of Canadians say density makes the risk of COVID-19 higher for persons living in these camps. Density also poses challenges to physical distancing. 89% also recognize the challenges of practicing physical distancing in refugee/displaced persons camps.

Another risk factor for those in refugee/displaced persons camp is access to healthcare services. 88% of Canadians say a lack of appropriate healthcare facilities makes these living conditions riskier (including 60% who say this factor makes it ‘much riskier’).


Canadians understand the implications of COVID-19 spreading within these camps, and they also see the potential for a wider impact on more than just those living in these camps.

A majority of Canadians agree with the notion that a major outbreak in refugee camps has the ability to spread back to Canada. 71% feel this could be a possibility, including 20% who say an outbreak in refugee camps would certainly spread back to Canada.

Nearly all feel that with our world being so interconnected, a return to normal cannot be possible until the spread of the disease is under control across the globe.

88% felt an outbreak in an entirely different part of the world could have a real impact on Canadians. 82% say that “before a vaccine is found, unless COVID-19 is controlled in all parts of the world, we won’t really be ale to return to normal life here”. And 80% agree that even if the curve is flattened in Canada, we can’t go back to normal if cases continue to spike in other parts of the world.

Until actions are taken to lessen the spread in other regions of the world, Canadians will likely be hesitant about a complete ‘return to normal’. A full COVID-19 recovery in Canada, means a COVD-19 recovery worldwide.


Four months into the COVID-19 pandemic, many Canadians are engaged, considering the implications for not only their own lives, but those in other parts of the world. Our research shows that Canadians have moved through phases of initial concern and uncertainty, to a more forward-thinking mindset about how we move forward and emerge from this pandemic. This includes how we prevent another large-scale outbreak from happening again.

A second wave has been top-of -mind for Canadians as we continue through this COVID phase. In the latest wave of our COVID-19 tracking study 95% of Canadians expressed some level of concern regarding a second wave.

Concerns for a second wave are legitimate. Canada (for the most part) has seen enough of a reduction in cases that we can begin to re-open. But this is not the case worldwide. The case-trend line continues to move upward in other areas of the world, notably in South-East Asia and Africa.

Even if cases are under control in Canada, a resurgence of cases in Canada is entirely possible, because of an outbreak elsewhere.

88% say that our world is so interconnected that an outbreak in another part of the world could impact Canadians again.

One lesson from the pandemic that Canadians clearly understand is how interconnected our world really is. What happens on the other side of the globe and easily impact life here.

To prevent a second wave, the case count will need to be reduced worldwide. And a majority of Canadians feel that an outbreak anywhere could have consequences for Canadians, including a refugee/displaced persons camp.

71% say that an outbreak in a refugee camp, on the other side of the world, could have a direct impact on the case count in Canada.

This includes 20% who say an outbreak in refugee camps would certainly spread back to Canada. The consequences of an outbreak in these places will need to be part of a recovery plan that mitigates the risk of a second wave here in Canada.

While Canada may be able to continue to decrease cases and control for a second wave inside our borders, not everyone worldwide will have the same opportunities. With limited access to space, healthcare services and resources for proper hygiene, 70% say the risk of contracting COVID-19 in a refugee/displaced persons camp is higher than the risk of contracting COVID-19 in Canada. Under these conditions, an outbreak in these areas is likely to result in more cases, than an outbreak in Canada. And should this outbreak occur, it could pose a real challenge for Canadians.

Controlling the risks for a second wave means lessening the risk of a second wave, or continuation of the first wave, everywhere, not just here at home.

Canadians recognize the risk of those living in refugee or displaced person’s camps. They are thinking about it and engaged. They know our world is small and interconnected. For the recovery to work, it has to be global, not just focused on our domestic needs.


World Vision’s Press Release on the Survey
A new poll released by World Vision reveals that Canadians recognize that life won’t return to normal unless the pandemic is stopped everywhere. As the virus continues to spread, the findings also revealed that Canadians are very aware of the COVID-19 risk to those living in crowded conditions like refugee camps, and most are concerned about the resulting potential of a second wave of the virus.

COVID-19 Aftershocks: A Perfect Storm
This report looks at one those impacts of COVID-19 on girls and boys. Violence. We predict a major spike in the cases of children experiencing physical, emotional and sexual violence, both now and in the months and years to come. Whether they are forced to stay at home, or, in time, are sent to work or pushed into early marriage, boys and girls face a bleak future – unless governments, UN agencies, donors, NGOs, and the private sector do everything thing they can now to protect them.

COVID-19 Aftershocks: Secondary impacts threaten more children’s lives than disease itself
As many as 30 million children are at risk of disease and death because of the secondary impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. World Vision’s Aftershocks report considers what would happen if the devastating secondary impacts of the 2015-2016 Ebola outbreak on children were replicated in the 24 most fragile countries covered by the UN’s COVID-19 humanitarian appeal.


Our survey was conducted with 2,087 Canadian adults between the dates of May 14 to 19, 2020. 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 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 +/- 2.12, 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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