Posted Thursday February 18, 2021


Canada Facing Crisis of Leadership and Expert Credibility

2021 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals erosion of trust in government, business and media leaders

Canada is facing a crisis in leadership and expert credibility. The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer shows that in Canada, amid urgent problems and in a year of crisis, leadership is failing. The survey reveals government leaders, CEOs and religious leaders are not trusted to do what is right. An astounding 50 per cent of Canadians say that business leaders are purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false and 46 per cent of Canadians say government leaders are doing the same.

Further, the credibility of experts saw a major decline year-over-year as well. Company technical experts and academic experts have declined 16 points in credibility; journalists are down four points; CEOs are down five points with only 29 per cent of Canadians believing they are a credible source of information, and Boards of Directors rank least credible at just 26 per cent, hitting an all-time low.

The survey highlights the growing struggle around trusted information and credible sources. Trust in all sources – traditional media, search engines, owned or social media – has declined significantly in the last year with only traditional news sitting in the neutral category. And, while doing better than their U.S. and global counterparts, nearly half of Canadians believe that journalists are purposely trying to mislead them by saying things they know are false, and more than half believe news organizations are more concerned with supporting an ideology than with informing the public.

To make matters more challenging, the 2021 Trust Barometer found that only 1 in 5 Canadians have good information hygiene. Good information hygiene is defined as three or more of the following actions: engaging with news, avoiding information echo chambers, verifying information and not amplifying unvetted information. There's a clear link between willingness to vaccinate and good information hygiene. Those with good information hygiene are more willing to vaccinate within the next year than those with poor information hygiene. In Canada, the vaccination gap – the difference in willingness to vaccinate between the two groups – is 14 points.

Slightly more than 1 in 3 Canadians surveyed say they are ready to be vaccinated as soon as possible. And a total of 66 per cent are willing to be vaccinated within the year—falling below the estimated 70 per cent or more required to achieve herd immunity as communicated by the Public Health Agency of Canada. Canada sits on par with the world on this front and only 7 points ahead of the U.S. when it comes to vaccination within the next year.

"Interestingly, our survey also shows that employer communications is enjoying a high level of trust, which represents a considerable new opportunity – and responsibility – for leaders," says Lisa Kimmel, chair and CEO, Edelman Canada and Latin America. "Employers can make a real difference in combatting the epidemic of misinformation by amplifying facts and providing trustworthy information that is truthful, unbiased, and reliable to their employees."

In a tumultuous year, Canadians say they are most worried about job loss (75%), cyber-attacks (65%) and climate change (63%). Only 60 per cent of Canadians are worried about contracting COVID-19 and nearly half of respondents worry about losing freedoms as a citizen in a year of lockdowns and mandatory stay-at-home orders.

Half of Canadians surveyed have witnessed layoffs or reductions in the workforce of the company they work for. 49 per cent worry that the pandemic will accelerate job loss due to automation.

Of the most important issues to Canadians, respondents list improving health care, addressing poverty and combatting fake news as top concerns.

Go to the trust Barometer


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ISSN 0824-45
Copyright, 2021

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