British Columbians Support Pandemic Ban on In-Person Worship

Only 12% of the province’s residents think the current fine of $2,300 for those who break the rules is “too high.”

Vancouver, BC [January 22, 2021] – The provincial government’s decision to forbid in-person worship services across British Columbia on account of the COVID-19 pandemic is endorsed by a sizeable majority of residents, a new Research Co. poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative provincial sample, 81% of British Columbians agree with the prohibition, while 13% disagree and 6% are not sure.

In November 2020, the provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, banned all in-person faith-related gatherings in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Churches, temples, mosques, synagogues and gurdwaras can only hold services for special occasions—such as baptisms, weddings and funerals—and with 10 people or fewer in attendance.

Support for the decision to forbid in-person worship services is slightly higher among women (84%) than men (77%). Majorities of British Columbians aged 18-to-34 (81%), aged 35-to-54 (75%) and aged 55 and over (85%) also agree with the government’s course of action.

“Four-in-five British Columbians who describe themselves as Christian (81%) believe the government made the right decision in banning in-person worship during the pandemic,” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “Support for the regulation is also high among residents who are atheist (87%), agnostic (75%) or who profess no religion (79%).” 

Some churches in British Columbia have been issued $2,300 tickets for holding in-person worship services in contravention of provincial orders. 

Two-in-five British Columbians (40%) believe the fine is “about right”, while a similar proportion (39%) deem it “too low.” Only 12% of the province’s residents feel the fine is “too high.”

While one-in-four residents of Northern BC (25%) believe the current monetary penalty is “too high”, the proportion drops 16% in the Fraser Valley and Southern BC, 11% in Metro Vancouver and 6% in Vancouver Island.

British Columbians of European descent are more likely to think that the $2,300 fine for holding in-person worship services is “too low” (43%) than those who described their ancestry as East Asian (37%), South Asian (30%) or First Nations, Métis or Inuit (26%).

Results are based on an online study conducted from January 16 to January 18, 2021, among 800 adults in British Columbia. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in British Columbia. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.5 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty.

Find our data tables here and download the press release here. 

For more information on this poll, please contact:

Mario Canseco, President, Research Co.