Concerns About Opioid Crisis Stagnant in Canada, Rise in U.S.

Just over a third of Canadians and Americans are satisfied with the way Justin Trudeau and Joe Biden are managing this issue.

Vancouver, BC [October 21, 2022] – Residents of Canada and the United States voice a high level of support for specific strategies to deal with the opioid crisis, a new two-country Research Co. poll has found.

In the online survey of representative national samples, 45% of Canadians and 60% of Americans describe the current situation related to the use of prescription and non-prescription opioid drugs in their community as “a major problem”.

Grave concerns about the opioid crisis remain stagnant in Canada compared to a Research Co. poll conducted in October 2021, but have risen by seven points in the United States since September 2020.

Respondents to this survey were asked to consider six ideas related to opioids. More than four-in-five Canadians and Americans endorse two of them: launching more education and awareness campaigns about drug use (CAN 84%, USA 88%) and creating more spaces for drug rehabilitation (CAN 82%, USA 84%).

The concept of “safe supply” programs, where alternatives to opioids can be prescribed by health professionals, is supported by 74% of Canadians and 80% of Americans. In addition, three-in-four residents of each country (CAN 75%, USA 75%) believe it is time to reduce the prescription of opioids by medical professionals.

Two other proposals are more contentious. Majorities of Canadians and Americans (CAN 63%, USA 56%) agree with setting up more “harm reduction” strategies, such as legal supervised injection sites.

The notion of decriminalizing all drugs for personal use is endorsed by 40% of Canadians and 35% of Americans.

“Nationwide support for the decriminalization of all drugs for personal use increased in Canada from 33% in 2021 to 40% this year,” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “In the United States, it dropped from 47% in 2020 to 35% in 2022.”

Canadians and Americans have similar opinions on the work of elected politicians to deal with the opioid crisis. More than a third consider the performance of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Canadian federal government (36%) and President Joe Biden and the American federal government (34%) as satisfactory.

While 34% of Canadians think their own Member of Parliament is doing a “good job” managing the use of prescription and non-prescription opioid drugs in your community, only 23% of Americans feel the same way about the U.S. Congress.

The ratings are equivalent for Canadians premiers and provincial governments (36%) and American governors and state governments (also 36%).

Local governments fare slightly better, with 39% of Americans endorsing the work of their mayor and local government on the opioid crisis and 38% of Canadians feeling the same way about their mayor and council.

Methodology: Results are based on online studies conducted from October 15 to October 17, 2022, among representative samples of 1,000 adults in Canada and the United States. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian and U.S. census figures for age, gender and region in each country. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.1 percentage points for each country.

Find our data tables for Canada here, the data tables for the United States here and download the press release here. 

For more information on this poll, please contact:

Mario Canseco, President, Research Co.

778.929.0490 [e]