Skip to main content

Canadians’ trust in government in a time of crisis: Does it matter?

Herati, Hoda, Burns, Kathleen E., Nascimento, Maria, Brown, Patrick, Calnan, Michael, Dubé, Ève, Ward, Paul R., Filice, Eric, Rotolo, Bobbi, Ike, Nnenna, and others. (2023) Canadians’ trust in government in a time of crisis: Does it matter? PLOS ONE, 18 (9). Article Number e0290664. ISSN 1932-6203. (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0290664) (KAR id:102740)

PDF Publisher pdf
Language: English

Click to download this file (492kB) Preview
[thumbnail of Calnan_Canadians.pdf]
This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology.
Request an accessible format
Official URL:


The ability of governments and nations to handle crises and protect the lives of citizens is heavily dependent on the public’s trust in their governments and related social institutions. The aim of the present research was to understand public trust in government during a time of crisis, drawing on interview data (N = 56) collected during the COVID-19 pandemic (2021). In addition to the general public (n = 11), participants were sampled to obtain diversity as it relates to identifying as First Nations, Métis, and Inuit (n = 7), LGBT2SQ+ (n = 5), low-income (n = 8), Black Canadians (n = 7), young adult (n = 8), and newcomers to Canada (n = 10). Data were coded in consideration of social theories of trust, and specifically the nature of trust between individuals and institutions working with government in pandemic management. Canadians’ trust in government was shaped by perceptions of pandemic communication, as well as decision-making and implementation of countermeasures. Data suggest that although participants did not trust government, they were accepting of measures and messages as presented through government channels, pointing to the importance of (re)building trust in government. Perhaps more importantly however, data indicate that resources should be invested in monitoring and evaluating public perception of individuals and institutions generating the evidence-base used to guide government communication and decision-making to ensure trust is maintained. Theoretically, our work adds to our understanding of the nature of trust as it relates to the association between interpersonal and institutional trust, and also the nature of trust across institutions.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1371/journal.pone.0290664
Additional information: For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission.
Uncontrolled keywords: pandemic management
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
Funders: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (
SWORD Depositor: JISC Publications Router
Depositing User: JISC Publications Router
Date Deposited: 11 Sep 2023 13:35 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Oct 2023 14:33 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Herati, Hoda:
Calnan, Michael:
Ward, Paul R.:
Meyer, Samantha B.:
  • Depositors only (login required):

Total unique views for this document in KAR since July 2020. For more details click on the image.