The Opioid Crisis is a Major Problem for Almost Half of Canadians

More than three-in-four Canadians believe more action is needed on education and awareness, as well as drug rehabilitation.  

Vancouver, BC [November 5, 2021] – The level of concern expressed by Canadians about the opioid crisis has increased over the past year, a new Research Co. poll has found.  

In the online survey of a representative national sample, 45% of Canadians describe the current situation related to the use of prescription and non-prescription opioid drugs in their community as “a major problem”, up six points since a similar Research Co. poll conducted in September 2020.  

More than half of British Columbians (58%) and Albertans (55%) refer to the current state of affairs as ”a major problem.”  

Canadians are not overly satisfied with the actions of elected politicians on this file. Just over a third of Canadians (34%, -1) believe Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the federal government are doing a “very good” or “good” coming up with solutions to deal with the use of prescription and non-prescription opioid drugs.  

Premiers and provincial governments have a slightly better rating on this question (39%, -4), with a higher level of satisfaction reported in British Columbia (43%, +7) than in Ontario (35%, -6), Quebec (34%, -10) and Alberta (28%, -19).  

Fewer Canadians are satisfied with the job their mayors and councils (37%, -3), their own Member of Parliament (33%, -5) and their own members of provincial legislatures (33%, -6) are doing to come up with solutions to deal with the use of prescription and non-prescription opioid drugs.  

“The preoccupation of Canadians with the opioid crisis has grown, particularly in Western Canada,” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “At the same time, the level of satisfaction with the work of elected officials is stagnant or in a downward trend.”  

More than three-in-four Canadians agree with launching more education and awareness campaigns about drug use (77%, -7) and creating more spaces for drug rehabilitation (76%, -2).  

A majority of Canadians are also in favour of three other ideas: reducing the prescription of opioids by medical professionals (69%, -4), establishing “safe supply” programs where alternatives to opioids can be prescribed by health professionals (61%, -9) and setting up more “harm reduction” strategies, such as legal supervised injection sites (56%, -3).  

A proposal to decriminalize all drugs for personal use remains decidedly more contentious, with 33% of Canadians (-1) saying they favour this idea and 54% (+1) voicing disagreement.  

Support for the decriminalization of all drugs for personal use is highest in Ontario (37%), followed by British Columbia (33%), Atlantic Canada (also 33%), Quebec (31%), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (30%) and Alberta (26%).  

Results are based on an online study conducted from October 25 to October 27, 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.