Impact Canada

COVID-19 Snapshot Monitoring (COSMO Canada)

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Implementing the WHO Behavioural Insights tool on COVID-19 to inform response efforts, including policy, interventions and communications.

icon of a magnifying glass over a head with covid-19 virus in the background

To support federal response efforts, Impact Canada is leading the implementation of the World Health Organization (WHO) Behavioural Insights (BI) Tool on COVID-19 in the Canadian context. This work is being led in collaboration with the Public Opinion Research Team within the Privy Council Office’s (PCO) Communications and Consultation Secretariat, which supports the Prime Minister’s Office in coordinating government communications in accordance with key priorities.

Insights garnered will inform the federal response to COVID-19, enabling whole-of-government decision making to meet the specific, changing needs of citizens. Data visualizations will also be published here for citizens and organizations alike to keep a pulse on evolving, nationwide trends.


  • Wave 1: 2,023 Canadians surveyed between April 11 and 15, 2020 [see results]
  • Wave 2: 2,098 Canadians surveyed between April 21 and 25, 2020 [see results]
  • Wave 3: 2,000 Canadians surveyed between May 5 and 10, 2020 [see results]
  • Wave 4: 2,152 Canadians surveyed between May 27 and June 1, 2020 [see results]

Key Insights

  • Wave 1

    Pandemic Outlook

    Most Canadians currently feel that the COVID-19 pandemic will get worse. Findings can be used as an early signal for how long Canadians expect pandemic response to last [see chart].


    On average, Canadians feel confident about their knowledge related to preventing the spread of COVID-19. However, Canadians are not as confident when it comes to their knowledge related to COVID-19 in general [see chart].

    Canadians recognize the seriousness of COVID-19 and the importance of working together to overcome the pandemic. The majority of Canadians are worried about COVID-19, with many feeling negatively impacted by the virus (e.g. stress, pervasive thoughts, helplessness relating to COVID-19). Currently, Canadians are interested in information relating to treatments, symptoms, and methods to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Changes over time will inform what information should be disseminated through government channels [see chart].


    Canadians are fairly knowledgeable about which groups are at risk for severe outcomes due to COVID-19, but there is greater variability in perceptions of pregnant woman, infants, and small children [see chart].

    Vaccine Hesitancy

    Currently, only 70% of Canadians indicated that they would get an effective or safe COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available. Further work is needed to improve the potential uptake of a vaccine ahead of its availability [see chart].

    See Wave 1 results
  • Wave 2

    Pandemic Outlook

    There has been a shift from wave to wave in how Canadians are viewing the state of the COVID-19 pandemic, with most now believing that the worst is either currently happening or is behind us [see chart].

    Preventative Measures

    Nearly half of Canadians in Wave 2 believe that eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly are effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19, despite limited evidence to suggest so [see chart].

    Most Canadians continue to adhere to key public health advice (e.g., physically distancing, handwashing, self-quarantining), and report that it will be very easy to maintain hand washing even when COVID-19 restrictions ease. However, Canadians believe that it will be more challenging to maintain other measures, such as working from home, physical distancing, and keeping social encounters to a minimum [see chart].

    Shopping Behaviours

    Most Canadians report having shopped locally, or planning to. Almost 80% of Canadians report grocery shopping once a week or less, but nearly half have had trouble finding essential food items such as milk and flour [see chart].


    Concern is decreasing in terms of the state of the COVID-19 crisis, along with corresponding economic, health system, and personal impacts. Nevertheless, stress levels remain elevated with few Canadians expressing satisfaction with their life as a whole at the moment [see chart].

    Views on Lifting Restrictions

    Most Canadians believe that existing restrictions and closures on schools, and physical distancing should remain in place for weeks to months. Many, however, would like to see non-essential businesses open sooner, rather than later [see chart].

    See Wave 2 results
  • Wave 3

    Pandemic Outlook

    Currently, 58% of Canadians believe that we are currently experiencing the worst of the crisis, or that the worst is behind us, up from 41% in Wave 1 [see chart].


    Roughly 4 in 10 Canadians have recently had some trouble sleeping, have felt anxious, lonely or depressed, while a quarter have experienced relationship strain with household members. About 1 in 10 have had physical reactions when thinking about their experience with COVID-19 [see chart].

    Preventative Behaviours

    While the use of most preventative measures have decreased from wave 1, the use of masks in public has increased with each wave [see chart]. Willingness to maintain behaviours has also risen slightly, notably physically distancing and changing from group to solo activities [see chart].

    Shopping Behaviours

    Most Canadians report having changed how or when they shop for groceries [see chart].

    Views on Lifting Restrictions

    Canadians report that restrictions on outdoor spaces and non-essential services should be lifted sooner than those on schools/daycare centres and gatherings [see chart].

    Less than half of Canadians report that they are likely to eat in a restaurant within the next year. Even fewer report that they are likely to participate in social gatherings, or fly on a plane [see chart].

    See Wave 3 results
  • Wave 4

    More Canadians are feeling that the “worst of the crisis is behind us”

    As we move through the crisis, more people are feeling that the “worst of the crisis is behind us” (from 6% in mid-April to 36% at the end of May) and fewer Canadians are worried about transmitting COVID-19 to people around them. However, an equal portion of Canadians still feel that the worst of the crisis is yet to come [see chart].

    Support for some public health measures is declining

    Support for the continued closures of daycare centres and schools, restricted access to long-term care facilities, physical distancing and cancelling large events for an additional one to six months or longer remains fairly high, but these numbers have decreased over each Wave of the survey. The percentage of respondents who think that the closures of non-essential services and outdoor spaces need to end within 30 days or sooner increased from Wave 3 to Wave 4 [see chart].

    Compliance with some public health measures has declined

    Compliance levels with many protective behaviours have declined. However, mask-wearing while out in public has increased over each Wave (from 22% in Wave 1 to 36% in Wave 4) [see chart].

    See Wave 4 results

Sign up for updates!

Use the form below to sign up and receive updates when new data sets are available:

Study details


To inform COVID-19 outbreak response efforts, including policy, interventions and communications.


An online panel of Canadian participants from across the country will be completing a 15 minute survey every 2 weeks.

Contact Us

For more information, contact the Impact and Innovation Unit of the Privy Council Office.