canada mask

This is how many Canadians now say they wear a face mask in public

It's been about a month since Canadian public health officials shifted their mask recommendations and began advising that people wear non-medical face masks when heading out to public places, and it seems almost half of Canadians are listening. 

A new survey conducted from May 8 to May 10 by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies suggests that 42 per cent of Canadian respondents say they now wear a face mask in public places.

This is a significant shift from March, when masks were a rare sighting on Canada's streets and public health officials continuously recommended against wearing them to protect against spreading the virus. 

"Wearing a non-medical mask, even if you have no symptoms, is an additional measure that you can take to protect others around you in situations where physical distancing is difficult to maintain," said Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam in early April when adjusting the mask recommendation in Canada

"A non-medical mask can reduce the chance of your respiratory droplets coming into contact with others or land on surfaces."

But despite the increase in mask usage in Canada, residents here are still using them far less than south of the border, where 79 per cent of respondents said they'd worn a mask in a public place within the past week. 

The new poll, which surveyed 1,526 Canadians and 1,004 Americans aged 18 years or older that were randomly recruited from LEO’s online panel, also found that 97 per cent of people in Canada said they'd practiced social distancing in the last week. 

Still, about half (51 per cent) report that someone outside their family has come within two metres of them.

Meanwhile, 86 per cent of Canadian respondents said they've stopped going out except for necessities and just 21 per cent said they'd visited friends or family in the past week. 

Compliance with ongoing restrictions is declining, according to the survey, with 39 per cent of Canadians and 55 per cent of Americans saying they haven't been following all of the guidelines. 

"The proportion of Canadians not following all of them has been trending upward," notes a release about the results.

This is likely at least partially due to the fact that we're in the midst of our ninth week of social distancing, but residents would be wise to continue following guidelines as we know for a fact that preventative safety measures won't be disappearing anytime soon.

Lead photo by

Jeremy Gilbert

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