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Medical Doctors and Premiers are the Trust Builders of the COVID-19 Pandemic

September 8, 2020
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Survey confirms negative trust impact on PM and charities sector.

TORONTO, September 8, 2020 – A new survey conducted this past long weekend (September 3 to 5) shows that Premiers working closely with medical doctors is a winning formula for building trust during these uncertain times.

“Alliances between Premiers and medical leaders are a key factor for trust as Canadians look for guidance grounded in science, expertise and empathy,” said Bruce MacLellan, CEO of Proof Strategies. “Canada’s unique trust story is evolving and differs from international narratives. There is a wide political coalition behind health safety in Canada and trust is improving as a result, according to this special edition of our CanTrust Index,” he added.

Trust by Canadians in their respective Premiers has risen 7 per cent since January to now stands at 44 per cent, with a notable increase from 28 per cent to 41 per cent among Ontario residents in trust for Premier Doug Ford. Trust for Premiers during this pandemic has increased in all regions except for Alberta.

“Trust in medical doctors continues at all-star levels of 83 per cent, followed closely by trust in scientists at 77 per cent,” added MacLellan.

Although the Prime Minister deserves credit for working closely with public health and medical advisors, he has experienced a decline in trust, likely due to parallel events with the WE Charity. Trust in the PM has fallen since January from 39 per cent to 32 percent, with the largest declines happening in Ontario and Quebec.

“Frustration and fatigue among citizens are now emerging as new pressures for leaders. Managing COVID-19 is not going to get easier as people face economic hardship and the winter season,” said MacLellan. “In addition, there is a societal expectation for improved inclusion, equity and diversity. These conditions will amplify both the positive and the negative aspects of leadership in this country.”

Trust in the charitable/not-for-profit sector has fallen 6 per cent to 50 per cent overall, after climbing by 7 per cent in May. Trust in charities is even lower at 42 per cent with people age 55+. This sector decline is also likely connected to Parliamentary Committees investigating Ottawa’s relationship with the WE Charity.

Among those Canadians in workplaces, trust in these senior leaders has increased from 51 per cent in January to 55 per cent in September. The trend is also positive, with the trust level at only 45 per cent in January 2019. “It appears CEOs or the most senior managers in workplaces are doing something right during this pandemic. Communicating regularly, showing empathy and connecting on shared values are important to building trust in a crisis,” said MacLellan.

“We encourage a trust-building imperative within every organization, said Kathleen McGinn, Director of Trustlab Inc. Whether it’s in communications,
strategy or within your product or service offering, the only way to effectively scale trust, is by embedding it,” she added.

In other survey findings:

About Proof Strategies Inc.
For leaders responsible for managing, protecting and building organizations and brands, Proof Strategies is a public relations and communications partner that “asks better questions” to create insight, grow trust and achieve success. Founded in 1994 and now with more than 300 awards for client work and industry leadership, the independently owned Proof family of companies (Proof Strategies, Trustlab and Proof Experiences) have more than 200 team members in offices in Toronto, Montréal, Ottawa and Washington, DC. Follow Proof at and on Twitter and Instagram at @get_proof.

About the Proof Strategies CanTrust Index
The Proof Strategies CanTrust Index is a leading source of research and understanding of trust in Canada. We study and analyze topics, institutions, events and population segments unique to Canada. For the September 2020 pandemic update, we surveyed 1,000 Canadians on September 3-5. It follows our May 2020 update, which also surveyed 1,000 Canadians. The sample is representative of Canadian population statistics by region, age and gender.

For further information: Kelly Olive, 647-938-6407,