Poll suggests Canadians feel less safe than they did before the COVID-19 pandemic hit

A new poll shows that a majority of Canadians feel they are less safe now than they were before the COVID-19 pandemic, and a majority think the provincial and federal governments are not doing a good job of tackling crime and public safety.

In an online survey, Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies asked respondents how crime and violence levels in their communities compare today to what they were before the pandemic began in early 2020.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents said they felt it had gotten worse — 32 percent said crime and violence had “got worse” and 32 percent said “a little bit worse”.

A quarter of respondents said the situation had not changed, and 8 percent said they did not know. Only 2% said things were “a little bit better.”

Women who live in urban areas are more likely to report worse conditions today.

Those in British Columbia were the most likely to say crime and violence have been worse since the pandemic hit, at 72 per cent, while those in Quebec were the least likely to say the same, at 54 per cent. Quebecers are most likely to say things haven’t changed.

Yet when asked if they had experienced, witnessed or known someone who experienced a range of unsafe situations — from vandalism to theft to physical assault — most respondents said they hadn’t.

The most common type of unsafe situation people reported was “aggressive behaviour,” which the survey identified as making threats, yelling or causing someone to fear for their safety. Of those surveyed, 20 percent said they had experienced such behavior, and 19 percent said they had feared for their safety at least once in the past six months.

5% of respondents said they were the victim of a physical attack, 5% said they were the target of a hate crime, while 20% said they knew someone who was assaulted and 17% said they knew a victim Hate crime.

More than half of respondents said they thought law enforcement and their city or municipality were doing a good job of addressing public safety issues, but only 39 percent said the same about their provincial government and only 33 percent think federal government passing score

Those over 55 and living in Quebec were the most satisfied with law enforcement, while less than half of Atlantic Canadians thought police were doing a good job.

Ontario residents were the least satisfied with the performance of their provincial government, and those in Manitoba and Saskatchewan were the least satisfied with the federal government.

The survey also asked whether stricter gun laws would make people feel safer. The survey found that 47 percent of respondents said it made them feel safer, and 42 percent said it didn’t change how they felt.

When asked what they thought of their list of actions to make communities safer, the vast majority of respondents called for tougher penalties for those convicted of violent crimes and better mental health support, options Received 81% and 79% support respectively.

Three-quarters of respondents said more police would help, and 72 percent said solving the housing crisis would make communities safer.

A total of 1,517 people took part in the survey between April 6 and 10. Because online surveys are not considered a true random sample, there is no way to specify a margin of error for polls.

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