Eroding trust in scientists, CEOs and journalists threatens vaccine rollout: Survey

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TORONTO — A new survey says eroding trust in scientists, CEOs and journalists could hamper the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in Canada.

The survey by communications firm Edelman found that trust in scientists was down six points compared with last year’s survey, while trust in academic experts declined 16 points, CEOs fell five points and journalists edged down four points.

It also found that half of Canadians say business leaders are purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false, while 46 per cent say government leaders are doing the same.

The survey underscores a growing struggle around trusted information and credible sources.

It found that only one in five Canadians have good “information hygiene,” which includes engaging with news, avoiding information echo chambers and verifying information.

The firm found that poor information hygiene was linked to vaccine hesitancy, potentially threatening pandemic recovery if too few Canadians seek vaccinations.

For example, the survey says about 73 per cent of Canadians with good information hygiene are willing to vaccinate within a year, compared to 59 per cent with poor information hygiene – a vaccination gap of 14 points.

Altogether, the report found 66 per cent of Canadians say they are willing to be vaccinated within the year, falling below the level needed to achieve herd immunity.

Meanwhile, the survey found that despite the pandemic, Canadians were most worried about job losses, followed by cyber attacks and climate change.

Only about 60 per cent of Canadians are worried about contracting the coronavirus, while half worry about losing freedoms in a year of lockdowns and stay-at-home orders.

The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer is based on online surveys with 1,500 Canadians last fall.

According to the polling industry’s generally accepted standards, online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 17, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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