In a nation known for its trustworthiness, the latest findings from the 2024 CanTrust Index paint a picture of skepticism among Canadians, particularly regarding pressing issues like affordable housing and the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Released by Proof Strategies, a leading research firm, this annual study provides valuable insights into the state of trust across various sectors and demographics.

Economic Concerns Take Center Stage

Economic anxiety grips the nation, surpassing even the concerns brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2022. According to the study, a staggering 67 percent of Canadians report increased stress and anxiety due to economic uncertainties, compared to 46 percent during the peak of the pandemic. This heightened anxiety underscores a deep-seated apprehension about the nation’s financial future.

Housing Trust Hits Rock Bottom

Despite Canadians’ reputation for trustworthiness, confidence in the ability of government leaders to address the affordable housing crisis is at an all-time low. Bruce MacLellan, Chair of Proof Strategies Inc., notes that trust in all three major national party leaders has dwindled, mirroring the declining faith in government at all levels to effectively tackle the housing issue. Only a dismal 22 percent of Canadians express trust in the federal government’s ability to address affordable housing, marking a six percent drop from the previous year.

Declining Confidence in Artificial Intelligence

As Artificial Intelligence continues to permeate various aspects of society, trust in its capabilities wanes. The study reveals that approximately two-thirds of Canadians harbor skepticism toward AI, with diminishing trust in its ability to contribute to the economy and enhance consumer experiences. Regional variations exist, with Quebec exhibiting higher levels of trust compared to British Columbia.

Generational Divide in AI Trust

Interestingly, younger generations display greater willingness to trust AI compared to their older counterparts. Millennials, in particular, exhibit higher levels of confidence in AI’s potential contributions to the economy and consumer experiences. This generational divergence highlights evolving attitudes toward technological advancements.

Turning Inward for Trust

Amid economic uncertainty and dwindling trust in institutions, Canadians are seeking solace within their inner circles. The study indicates a significant uptick in trust placed in friends and family for reliable information, particularly regarding critical issues like climate change.

Continued Trust in Professionals

Despite broader skepticism, Canadians maintain a high level of trust in professionals such as doctors, scientists, and educators. This steadfast confidence underscores the importance of expertise and integrity in cultivating trust among the populace.

Media Trust Remains Resilient

Contrary to narratives of media distrust, Canadians’ trust in journalists and traditional media outlets remains robust. Trust in journalists to deliver reliable information has increased, positioning traditional news sources as pillars of credibility in an era of misinformation.

Building Trust in Business and Governance

The study underscores the imperative for businesses and government entities to prioritize trust-building initiatives. From addressing pressing societal issues to fostering transparency and accountability, proactive measures are essential in restoring public confidence.

The Trudeau Factor: Trust in Political Leadership

Notably, trust in Prime Minister Trudeau has seen a significant decline, dropping from 46 percent in 2018 to a mere 25 percent in 2024. This sharp decline reflects a broader trend of decreasing trust in political leaders, with only 17 percent of Canadians expressing trust in politicians in general.

Looking Ahead

As Canada grapples with multifaceted challenges, nurturing trust emerges as a linchpin for societal cohesion and progress. Leaders across sectors must heed the insights gleaned from the CanTrust Index, fostering an environment where trust thrives through integrity, transparency, and genuine engagement.

In Conclusion

The 2024 CanTrust Index serves as a vital barometer of trust in Canada, offering valuable insights into societal attitudes and perceptions. As the nation navigates turbulent waters, cultivating trust emerges as an imperative for fostering resilience and unity in the face of uncertainty.

Additional Survey Findings

Beyond the key highlights, the 2024 CanTrust Index reveals nuanced shifts in trust across various institutions and sectors:

Trust in Canada’s Central Bank remains stable at 49 percent, with younger Canadians expressing higher levels of trust.

Trust in the Canadian military has seen a notable increase, rising to 59 percent in 2024 from 52 percent in 2022.

Similarly, trust in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has experienced an uptick, climbing to 55 percent from 48 percent in 2022.

Despite these gains, employees continue to give their employers only a “C” grade for their ability to build trust with external audiences, highlighting the ongoing challenges in workplace trust.

About the 2024 Proof Strategies CanTrust Index

The Proof Strategies CanTrust Index, now in its ninth year, is a leading source of research and understanding of trust in Canada. It studies and analyzes topics, institutions, events, and population segments unique to Canada. A total of 1,501 Canadians were surveyed between January 3-13 by online panel. The sample is representative of Canadian population statistics by region, age, and gender. The study uses a 7-point scale with 7 being the highest trust and 1 being the lowest. Respondents choosing 7, 6, or 5 result in the percentages of trust used in the report.

About Proof Strategies

For almost a decade, Proof Strategies has been contributing to knowledge about trust in Canada. A centerpiece of the firm’s leadership is the annual Proof Strategies CanTrust Index™, a research study conducted each January and shared publicly on its website, in media stories, in contributions to books and articles, and in presentations to companies, educational institutions, charities, and not-for-profits. This “Made in Canada” study, conducted by independent research partners, samples 1,500 Canadians to track trends in trust in institutions, leaders, and information sources. In 2021, Proof Strategies partnered with leading academics and the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD) to create the Trust Matters Toolkit, available to board members in Canada and around the world. In 2024, Proof Strategies partnered with the Social Studies Educators Network of Canada (SSENC) to publish three teaching plans called Learning About Trust, designed to teach elementary, middle, and high school students the importance of defining and building trust. Proof Strategies is committed to advancing the understanding of trust year-round – societies, democracies, and economies cannot function without it.