Helping the government listen to Canadians

Thousands of Canadians each year are asked for their opinions on Government of Canada activities. Your views matter, so don't be surprised if you're invited to share them.

With support from Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC), the federal government conducts public opinion research to determine which issues Canadians care about and how they want these issues to be addressed.

The insights gathered help in the development and evaluation of federal priorities, policies and programs to ensure they meet the needs of Canadians. Essentially, public opinion research provides the government with valuable public perspectives, on a wide range of subjects, that contribute to evidence-based decision-making.

An emphasis on pandemic perspectives

From April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021, PSPC helped 35 departments conduct 151 studies on various topics.

In addition to public opinion research on many issues of public importance, including vaping, anti-racism, firearms and cybersecurity, there were numerous studies to gauge the needs and views of Canadians with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures taken by the government to address it.

Among the studies were focus groups on the state of the economy and COVID-19 for Finance Canada, and COVID-19 financial well-being monitoring for the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada. Health Canada studies included an evaluation of the COVID-19 Alert application, a tracking survey of views on COVID-19, as well as concept testing for the COVID-19 mass vaccination campaign and the COVID-19 public education campaign.

Throughout the pandemic, the Privy Council Office has also evaluated public perceptions and tested various communications materials via surveys and focus groups. The studies are both cross-sectional (measurements taken at a single point in time) and longitudinal (measurements taken at multiple points in time) in nature.  

This research provided real-time snapshots of the perceptions of Canadians regarding the pandemic. It was one of the key sources of data used by the government to determine how to respond effectively to the crisis.

Making public opinion research possible

PSPC coordinates all federal public opinion research and puts in place tools to award contracts for the required services. We also provide guidance to departments that are engaging the public, to ensure their research is well-planned. Similarly, federal departments rely on us to help them meet government standards and best practices for the research, such as in their use of official languages.

Every year, PSPC helps federal departments consult Canadians from all regions of the country and all segments of the population. In 2021, the demographics for the research included women, youth, persons with disabilities, members of racialized communities and linguistic minorities, and Indigenous Peoples.

A commitment to government transparency

To inform Canadians about the steps the government takes to hear their voices, PSPC prepares annual reports on all contracted public opinion research. Further transparency is provided by the publication of the research findings on the Library and Archives Canada website (within 6 months of study completion).

Public opinion research is a critical communications tool for federal departments and agencies. It helps the government better understand Canadian society and engages Canadians on key issues of the public agenda.

For more details, visit Public opinion research in the Government of Canada.

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