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Canadians are reluctantly wearing masks as support for mandatory masking climbs

An Angus Reid poll found only 55% of Canadians are wearing masks regularly when they leave home

July 20, 2020  The Canadian Press

TORONTO — As fears of a resurgence in COVID-19 cases increase, many Canadians are reluctantly donning masks to stop the spread of the virus.

This is according to a new Angus Reid poll which found only 55% of Canadians are wearing masks regularly when they leave home.

The other 45% either wear masks rarely or not at all.

Every province except for Alberta and Saskatchewan registered over 70% support for mandatory masking laws — the former at 60% and the latter with just 55% support for the measure.

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Only a quarter respondents said their reason for not wearing a mask was that they forgot to bring one, while 74% pointed to discomfort, lack of concern about catching COVID-19, a perceived ineffectiveness of masks, or simply mimicking others not wearing them.

The poll also found that men were much less likely to wear masks than women, and a majority of women across all age brackets reported wearing one when they leave home.

This is despite the poll’s finding that national concern over the threat posed by COVID-19 is at its highest since April.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney addressed the reluctance of some Albertans to wear a mask at a press briefing in Red Deer today, noting the potential for further economic damage if the province needs to go into lockdown again.

“I hear people say that mask wearing is a globalist idea. I will remind them that I was advocating mask use when the World Health Organization — a global organization — was recommending against it,” Kenney said.

“My pitch to those folks, if they’re upset about mask usage, the alternative will inevitably be more widespread suspensions of economic activity if we get a second outbreak.”

A different poll on COVID-19 from Leger and the Association of Canadian Studies found a nearly 10% increase in support for masking between June 26 and July 12.

Across the country, the Leger poll found 67% of Canadians support mandatory masking for all indoor public spaces, compared to 58% just over two weeks ago.

Only 27% were against the measure and 6% were not sure.

On July 18, Quebec became the first province to mandate masks inside public spaces across the region.

Similar orders had already been issued on the municipal level in various cities across Ontario, with Toronto enacting the order on July 7.

And as the city prepares to enter the Stage 3 reopening phase, the Ontario Medical Association has asked the provincial government to keep indoor bars closed, saying it presents “significant risk” for potential outbreaks.

“When people consume alcohol, inhibitions are lowered, making them much less likely to practice physical distancing, proper masking behaviours and good hand hygiene,” OMA President Dr. Samantha Hill said.

A number of incidents in Toronto have highlighted the divide over masking and physical distancing rules, with some bar and restaurant owners bending public health bylaws in order to serve more customers or run illegal parties.

Earlier this week, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario announced an investigation into popular King St. restaurant MARBL due to a video that emerged on social in which dozens of patrons could be seen crammed into a semi-indoor space while celebrating a birthday.

The video, which also showed staff failing to wear masks, prompted outrage online.

At the beginning of July, another King St. bar — Goldie — lost its liquor license after it was revealed the establishment hosted a club night for 125 people last month.

By Jake Kivanc