A new poll by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies (ACS) shared with MTL Blog shows that while people are generally more optimistic about the state of the pandemic in Quebec, there's a divide in attitudes between francophones and non-francophones.
The poll, which included input from 1,532 Canadians between February 25 and 27, captured a "spike in optimism in Eastern Canada and especially in Quebec," according to ACS President Jack Jedwab.
How did attitudes about the pandemic change in Canada?
"With worries about the vaccine rollout and reduced, but sustained case levels" in early February, the ACS says the "the level of concern about the impact of the virus was quite high."
At that time, "the vast majority of Canadians surveyed [maintained] that we were in the worst period of the crisis or that the worst was yet to come."
However, as the month went on and more doses went out, pollsters noted that this concern began to wane.
In Quebec, there was "a 15 point jump in the percentage saying that the worst of the crisis was behind us," the ACS says.
The latest poll found that Quebecers were the "most likely" to hold an optimistic view, while British Columbians and Ontarians were the "least likely."
38% of Quebecers polled believe that "the worst of the crisis is behind us."
30%, however, answered that they believed "we are in the worst period" right now.
What was the divide between francophones and non-francophones?
While 41.9% of francophone respondents said they believed the worst is behind us, only 24.1% of non-francophones responded the same way.
36.1% of non-francophones thought "we are in the worst period of the crisis now" and 27.7% believed "the worst of the crisis is yet to come."
That's compared to 27.8% and 20.2% of francophones, respectively.
What does the future hold for Quebec?
Regional and provincial health officials are warning of a possible "third wave" of infections in Montreal as the B.1.1.7 variant, which was identified in the U.K., continues to spread.
Fear of another case spike led the Quebec government to hold off on moving the regions around Montreal into the orange zone, even as restaurants and gyms are set to open everywhere else in the province.
Jedwad questioned whether this warning will damper Quebecers' optimism.
"Time will tell how the emotional roller coaster with its accompanying highs and lows about the future will evolve," he said.
"But at this juncture clear public messaging from elected officials and public health experts is as critical as ever."
Over the past year, two Quebecers, Florence-Olivia and Marie-Emmanuelle Genesse, started The.SisOfficial platform on both TikTok and Instagram, where they share information from their research on violence against women.
One of their TikTok videos, which showcased a hand gesture for individuals to use when they're experiencing violence at home, went viral and was shared with a caption saying, "This can save lives." And it turns out it did.
MTL Blog got the chance to speak with the creators of The.SisOffical platform on their background in research about violence against women and the importance of sharing different signals with the public. You can read our interview below.
What made you start The.SisOfficial account?
We started The.SisOfficial a bit more than a year ago, when Covid started and we were both at home because [our] school was now fully online. Flo is doing her Masters in Legal Philosophy (her area of research is sexual violence) at Johns Hopkins University and Emma is doing her Masters in Feminist Philosophy at Concordia University and her research focuses on domestic violence. We wanted to find a way to share our research with as many people as possible, but in a way that everyone would be able to understand and enjoy learning about these facts.
Sometimes, philosophy and research on violence against women can be difficult to understand, so we wanted to create a platform where people could go to get educated on these important issues, while not having to read hundreds of pages or research.
When we saw that some people were getting millions of views to dance on TikTok, we decided to combine our dance background (we danced semi-professionally for 18 years) with our research so that these millions of views could also help save lives and educate people.
We did not expect the platform to grow as much as it did, but we are so happy that our work can have an impact on women's lives. We have received many testimonies where young girls and women told us about their stories and that seeing our page has helped them in many ways.
We also receive messages from men saying they did not know they could be feminist as men and that we have helped them see that the word 'feminist' is not a bad word, but rather the basic notion that women should be treated as human too.
How did you learn about the hand signal? Why did you think it was important to share it?
As violence against women researchers, we are always on the lookout for signals, hand signs or new ways to incorporate in daily life safety tools to help women, so we were already aware of this hand signal for domestic abuse (which comes from the Canadian Women's Foundation).
For us, it is important to discuss violence against women as much as possible because it is very often taboo in society. To have a platform like we have with The.SisOfficial (350K followers on TikTok and almost 50K on Instagram) means that we have a duty to share these hand signals and safety tips for women, but also so that other people will recognize it and [be] able to help them, like with that happened in the US recently.
It was important for us to share it in a manner that was also like a real-life situation (we reenacted a FaceTime call) because since COVID-19, women are more than ever stuck at home with their abusers and FaceTimes are very often their only way to communicate with people outside their home.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
Women will lead five of Quebec's eight largest cities following the 2021 municipal elections.
The biggest headline of the night may have been Valérie Plante's triumph over old foe Denis Coderre in Montreal, but across the province, the faces of municipal politics have become more gender-balanced.
According to the latest counts and projections, France Bélisle (Gatineau), Catherine Fournier (Longueuil), Évelyne Beaudin (Sherbrooke) and Julie Dufour (Saguenay) are all also on their way to their respective (and figurative) city hall corner offices.
In Quebec City, it seemed for a while like Marie-Josée Savard would join them. Multiple outlets had even called the election for her until the vote count for her opponent surged into the evening. Bruno Marchand ultimately claimed victory.
Mayor Plante commented on the historic nature of her second mandate in her victory speech Sunday night.
"Four years ago, Montrealers elected the first woman mayor in the history of the City of Montreal," she said.
"Tonight, they told us again, 'yes, this mayor, we're going to continue to work with her, we trust her!'"
This year, for the first time, Montrealers will have two women leading the city, as Projet Montréal's Dominique Ollivier is set to take over as president of the Executive Committee.
The government is in the process of filling a Service Canada job bank and it's advertising salaries of between $61,152 and $65,887.
On an online recruitment page, the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) office says it needs to fill 45 benefits officer and program officer positions in Quebec and encourages qualified individuals to apply.
The only education requirement is a high school diploma.
While benefits officers review and process employment insurance applications, the government describes a wide range of duties for program officers, including coordination with local stakeholders regarding services from the ESDC.
Service Canada says it has EI processing centres and "program branches" in Montreal, Laval, Boucherville, Drummondville, Thetford Mines, Shawinigan, Quebec City and Saguenay, but that it may assign alternative workplaces to applicants who don't live in these areas.
In addition to a high school diploma, Service Canada is looking for applicants who have experience totalling six months "in delivering services or programs to the general public" or "interpreting and applying legislation or policies."
The language requirement is either French-only or French and English, depending on the position, according to the recruitment page.
Complete details about the positions available and the application process are online.
Twelve percent of allophones — those whose first language is neither English nor French — use cannabis.
This is compared to 21% of Quebecers who use cannabis overall.
Montrealers also combine alcohol and cannabis more than the Quebec average.
A press release from Éduc'alcool says, "35% of francophones who use cannabis and alcohol together combine the two always or often (vs. 28% of Quebecers overall) [...] The same is true for 26% of anglophones and 29% of allophones who use cannabis and drink alcohol at the same time."
Data for the survey was collected online from August through October 2020, and from February 15 to March 30, 2021. Éduc'alcool surveyed 1,200 people in the Montreal region and a total of 7,600 respondents across Quebec.