The Covid-19 pandemic has tested Canada’s institutions in unimaginable ways, but the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer Spring Update: Trust and the Covid-19 Pandemic suggests they are rising to the occasion. 

When we launched the Canadian cut of the Edelman Trust Barometer 2020 in February, we noted a decline in trust across all populations, in all institutions. This was significant, given our political context: the Canadian survey coincided with our 2019 federal election. Historically, we had seen an increase in trust, particularly in government, during election years. This year, the mass population distrusted government. 

At the time, we pointed to growing uncertainty in Canada. We were seeing political tensions, an emerging east-west divide and economic and trade challenges—factors that prompted Canadians to question the ability of our institutions to lead us into the future.  

With the emergence of Covid-19, that future—our “next reality”—has arrived, and Canada’s situation is more uncertain than ever before. Yet since January, the trust that Canadians place in government has increased significantly (+20 points). 

Admittedly, Canada is behind Europe and Asia on the pandemic timeline. As our Covid-19 crisis enters its peak, we are learning from the challenges and successes of other nations that are now re-opening. Government in Canada built confidence by embracing partnership and collaboration through the early stages of the pandemic. The Prime Minister regularly defers to his Chief Medical Officers, who provide straight facts that are tough to hear, but also reassuring to an anxious public. Where there were once tensions between political parties, we have seen a decline in hyper-partisan rhetoric, as leaders at all levels of government present a consciously united front. 

Canadians have found comfort and trust in this centralized and coordinated effort. More than half (54 percent) believe our country is well-prepared for this viral outbreak—a stark contrast to our counterparts in the UK (35 percent) and the U.S. (33 percent). 

As the conversation shifts to rebuilding and recovery, it is critical that the spirit of partnership remains. This is true not only for government, but for all of Canada’s institutions. Our latest 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer Spring Update: Trust and the Covid-19 Pandemic tells us that business is expected to partner with government on crisis response, future preparedness and shaping regulation. Collaboration with competitors on faster development of effective response is also called for. 

Canadians are showing patience. We want the transition to a post-Covid reality to be done right (as opposed to fast). Eight-four percent say CEOs should be conservative in getting back to normal operations, even if it means waiting to bring people back to work until the virus has been brought under control. The success of our institutions will depend on thoughtful collaboration and practical adaptability. They must work together to prioritize our people if they wish to maintain the trust of the public, now and in the future.

Lisa Kimmel is Chair and CEO of Edelman operations in Canada & Latin America.

About The 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer Spring Update:
Trust and the Covid-19 Pandemic

The 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer Spring Update: Trust and the Covid-19 Pandemic is an update to the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer. The survey was conducted by Edelman Intelligence between April 15 and April 23, and sampled more than 13,200 respondents in 11 markets: Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, S. Korea, U.K. and U.S. 1,200 people were surveyed in each market, 100 of which were informed public. All informed public respondents met the following criteria: aged 25-64, college-educated; household income in the top quartile for their age in their country; read or watch business/news media at least several times a week; follow public policy issues in the news at least several times a week.

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