A recent poll on marine shipping by Angus Reid finds an overwhelming majority of Canadians – 94 per cent – believe marine shipping in Canadian waters is safe. As well, eight-in-ten say marine shipping is either "critically important" or "very important" to Canada's ability to export goods to other markets. Fifty-five per cent say shipping has gotten more important to Canada over the last two decades. This is an increase from previous polls, suggesting the Canadian public is placing a higher degree of importance on marine shipping than before.
Oil spills remain a concern among Canadians, though the fear of spills has declined from 60 per cent in 2016 to 54 per cent in 2018. Also, concern over oil spills may reflect an overestimation by Canadians regarding the frequency of major incidents in Canadian waters. When given the official definition of a ‘major spill’ (one in which at least 700 tonnes of petroleum are spilled – roughly equivalent to one-third of the volume of an Olympic swimming pool), 68 per cent of Canadians believed that there have been at least three such spills in Canadian waters over the past 10 years.
In fact, there have been zero spills this size in the past decade. Only 11 per cent of Canadians correctly answered this question.
Three-quarters of Canadians say they are confident in the rules and regulations governing marine shipping safety in Canada today. This is a 10-point increase from 2016.
The poll was conducted by the Angus Reid Institute in partnership with the Clear Seas Centre for Responsible Marine Shipping.
Marine Shipping Attitudes By the Numbers
- 94% of Canadians say marine shipping is either "very safe" (30 per cent) or "generally safe" (64 per cent)
- 75% are confident in Canada's regulations for marine shipping safety
- 54% cite oil spills as major shipping risk
- Only 11% correctly guessed there have been zero major spills in Canadian waters in the past decade