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Younger Canadians have highest levels of optimism for a better future

Research shows higher rates of political engagement among younger Canadians offering hope for achieving vision of a better Canada

Canadians lean into community as pandemic continues


Monday, December 7, 2020, Unceded territories of Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations/Vancouver B.C – Younger Canadians – between the ages of eighteen and thirty four – remain more hopeful about achieving a better Canada, according to a research report released today by the Environics Institute for Survey Research and the Vancity.

The first part of the report, A Better Canada: Values and Priorities after COVID-19, was released in September and found that most Canadians want a fundamental change to how the economy works, as well as a green recovery that combines an economic restart with action on climate change. It also documented widespread public support for a range of reforms, including measures to reduce inequality, improve services for children and the elderly, expand care for the sick and the vulnerable, and protect the environment.

The second part of the report, A Better Canada: Community, Citizenship and Engagement, explores Canadians’ thinking about whether and how the country can achieve a better Canada, and indicates that younger Canadians between the ages of eighteen and thirty-four remain more hopeful about the prospects of achieving a better Canada. This group is more optimistic about the prospect for progress in addressing a range of issues, including inequality and climate change. And they are much more likely to believe that collective citizen action can change an unpopular political decision. This group is also more likely to have participated in some types of political activity in the past year, including signing a petition and taking part in a peaceful demonstration.

Other key findings of the report include:

  • Canadians express a great deal of confidence in those on the forefront of handling the response of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic. Nine in ten Canadians say they have confidence in doctors and nurses, while eight in ten say the same about scientists.
  • Seven in ten Canadians, including majorities in all income brackets, say they have confidence in their bank or credit union.
  • Canadians find community in interpersonal connections, and in shared experiences and perspectives. This begins with family and friends, which – for more than nine out of ten Canadians – are important to their own sense of community.
  • For majorities of newcomers to Canada, people who share their culture or faith are also important for their sense of community.
  • Confidence in business leaders has dropped and reached a new low. For the first time, Canadians are more likely to have confidence in governments than in business leaders.
  • While nearly one in two Canadians are optimistic about making real progress in addressing climate change over the next decade, two in five say such progress is unlikely.
  • One in two Canadians would pay a little more than they do now for a product that they need, if that product was made in Canada, or by a company that reinvests its profits in their community. And around a third would be willing to pay a little more to buy a product that was made by a company that is significantly reducing its carbon emissions; or if that company were owned by a woman, an Indigenous person or a person from a racial minority.

Quote from Christine Bergeron, Interim President and CEO, Vancity:

“The past year has been fraught with political, environmental, and social change. And in a climate where many may have felt despair, most envision a brighter future. The public’s unyielding desire for a better society is evident in this research and it’s up to governments and businesses to build the kind of society Canadians want, one that is greener and more just.”

Quote from Michael Adams, founder and president, Environics Institute for Survey Research:

“Our survey shows that a majority of Canadians are optimistic about making progress on racism and discrimination, but fewer say it’s likely that the country will make real progress in addressing the standard of living of Indigenous Peoples, or economic inequality, over the next decade. The economic recovery, when it comes, will be an opportunity to address these long-standing challenges, and give Canadians more reasons to be hopeful.”

A Better Canada: Community, Citizenship and Engagement, can be found online here.

About Vancity

Vancity is a values-based financial co-operative serving the needs of its more than 543,000 member-owners and their communities, with offices and 60 branches located in Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Victoria, Squamish and Alert Bay, within the unceded territories of the Coast Salish and Kwakwaka’wakw people. With $28.2 billion in assets plus assets under administration, Vancity is Canada’s largest community credit union. Vancity uses its assets to help improve the financial well-being of its members while at the same time helping to develop healthy communities that are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable.

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