New Poll Finds Significant Discomfort With Public Health Orders



April 1, 2021 

OTTAWA, ON – Four in 10 Canadians who regularly attend religious services agree that COVID restrictions on places of worship, compared to other public venues, have been unfair. That finding comes from a new survey by the Angus Reid Institute in partnership with think tank Cardus just in time for several religious holidays and observances, including Easter, Passover, Ramadan, and Holi. The feeling that authorities have been unnecessarily harsh with religious services jumps to 50 percent in British Columbia, where restrictions on in-person public worship have been strictest. Similarly, 48 percent of Manitoba respondents and 44% of Quebec respondents feel restrictions have been unfair. 

At the same time, only around one percent of respondents said the place of worship they normally attend has remained open throughout the pandemic. More than 7 in 10 say their place of worship has been entirely or mostly closed since March 2020.

“The evidence shows wide-spread compliance with public health orders among religious communities, despite a significant feeling the orders have been unfair when compared to other places where folks gather,” says Ray Pennings, Cardus Executive Vice President. “Communal worship is a core part of many believers’ identity and lockdowns are personally costly for them.”

Compliance with health orders has taken a toll on religiously observant Canadians:

  • Upwards of eight in 10 say they miss attending in-person worship like they did pre-COVID.
  • Half of respondents miss being in a religious community, while significant portions also miss religious ceremonies and rituals, as well as being present in a sacred place.
  • More than four in 10 who stream online religious services do so alone.
  • A full 20 percent say COVID-19 has had an overall negative impact on their spiritual state.

“Every Canadian has faced challenges in dealing with the pandemic and restrictive health orders,” says Pennings. “For many, the economic and social toll has been devastating. These findings add a previously unexplored facet to the overall story about how COVID-19 has affected our society.” 

Full survey results are available on the Angus Reid Institute website.




Daniel Proussalidis
 Cardus – Director of Communications

Shachi Kurl
 President – Angus Reid Institute


About ARI
 The Angus Reid Institute (ARI) was founded in October 2014 by pollster and sociologist, Dr. Angus Reid. ARI is a national, not-for-profit, non-partisan public opinion research foundation established to advance education by commissioning, conducting and disseminating to the public accessible and impartial statistical data, research and policy analysis on economics, political science, philanthropy, public administration, domestic and international affairs and other socio-economic issues of importance to Canada and its world.


Cardus is a non-partisan think tank dedicated to clarifying and strengthening, through research and dialogue, the ways in which society's institutions can work together for the common good.