Nanos: Increased cynicism, confusing messaging a problem as third wave hits Canada

Canada is seeing a surge of COVID-19 infections sparked by more infectious variants, and Nanos Research's Nik Nanos says confusing messaging may contribute to cynicism around public health guidelines.

"People put a high level of credibility and physicians, public health officials, and they trust them," said Nanos on the latest episode of Trend Line. "The challenge  is that right now what we're seeing is different approaches in different parts of the country… it creates a certain level of confusion."

Ontario, Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia have all tightened restrictions over the past week, as variant infections stretch hospital capacity to the limit, but public criticism over tough lockdowns is growing.

That disconnect was clearly seen over the past weekend in Toronto, where scenes of a packed mall emerged, days after Ont. Premier Doug Ford announced a province-wide shutdown.

CTV Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Abdu Sharkawy told CTV News Channel's Power Play on Monday, that the current strategy clearly isn't working, and crowds at the Yorkdale Mall show the “message isn't clear enough."

"You try and contrast that and reconcile it with small businesses that have had to shut their doors… you try and make sense of this, but you can't," Sharkawy said. "We are seeing teachers get sick, we are seeing our ICUs flooded with young, essential workers.

Nanos said that government communications have remained similar since the start of the pandemic, but a new strategy will highlight the increased risk to all Canadians.

"There has to be a new approach, because there's a new coronavirus variant out there," said Nanos. "It's time for public health officials to really put a spotlight on these new variants, to put a spotlight on the fact that healthy people are at risk, younger people are at risk."

Listen to the full episode of Trend Line with CTVNews.ca's Rachel Aiello and Nanos Research's Nik Nanos wherever you get your podcasts or by clicking on the video at the top of this article.