Canada’s Moral Compass Relatively Unchanged Since 2020

Almost two thirds of Canadians (65%) believe physician-assisted death is “morally acceptable.”

Vancouver, BC [April 30, 2021] – While many Canadians continue to have no moral qualms when assessing issues such as divorce or contraception, opinions are noticeably different on matters such as polygamy or infidelity, a new Research Co. poll has found.

The online survey of a representative national sample asked Canadians whether they considered 21 different issues as “morally acceptable” or “morally wrong.”

More than seven-in-ten Canadians think divorce (77%, up six points since a similar Research Co. poll conducted in January 2020), contraception (76%, +1) and sexual relations between an unmarried man and woman (72%, +2) are “morally acceptable.”

More than half of Canadians consider five other issues as “morally acceptable”: having a baby outside of marriage (69%, +1), physician-assisted death (65%, +3), sexual relations between two people of the same sex (62%, +1), abortion (57%, +1), gambling (also 57%, +7) and medical research using stem cells obtained from human embryos (55%, +6).

“Canadians who voted for the Conservative Party in the 2019 federal election are more likely to express moral reservations about specific issues related to human interaction,” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “Tory voters are significantly below the national average on accepting sexual relations between two people of the same sex (54%).”

More than three-in-ten Canadians believe the death penalty (39%, -1), buying and wearing clothing made of animal fur (38%, +6), prostitution (33%, =) and pornography (31%, -5) are “morally acceptable.”

While almost half of residents of Alberta (48%) and Saskatchewan and Manitoba (46%) believe the death penalty is “morally acceptable”, the proportion drops in British Columbia (38%), Quebec (37%), Atlantic Canada (also 37%) and Ontario (36%).

As was the case last year, Canadian men are more likely to say that prostitution and pornography are “morally acceptable” (40% and 39% respectively) than their female counterparts (27% and 24% respectively).

Fewer than one-in-four Canadians believe eight other issues are “morally acceptable”: medical testing on animals (24%, +2), using illegal drugs (20%, -1), cloning animals (19%, =), polygamy (19%, +2), suicide (18%, -4), married men and/or women having an affair (18%, +4), cloning humans (12%, +2) and paedophilia (5%, +2).

Results are based on an online survey conducted from April 16 to April 18, 2021 among 1,000 adults in Canada. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in Canada. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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

For more information on this poll, please contact:

Mario Canseco, President, Research Co.