January 11, 2023 – As the world pushes towards net-zero emissions targets, and away from the war-influenced roller coaster of fossil fuel prices, many countries – including Canada – are putting the nuclear option back on the table.
Touted as a low greenhouse gas emission energy source, and a way to insulate against the volatile prices of fossil fuels, nuclear power has returned to vogue following a year of oil price shocks.
New data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds increasing support from Canadians for nuclear power. In June 2021, half (51%) of Canadians said they would like to see further development of nuclear power generation. Now approaching three-in-five (57%) say the same.
Over a decade ago, in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, there was a global move away from nuclear power. Quebec decommissioned its only nuclear power plant in 2012, while Ontario in 2020 had planned a phase out at its Pickering plant, which has since been delayed.
Proximity is a key consideration with Fukushima and the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe in recent memory. The latter irradiated a more than 4,000 square kilometre area around the plant still closed for the most part to human activity. However, two-in-five (43%) Canadians say they would be comfortable with a nuclear power plant operating within 50 kilometres of where they live. That proportion increases when Canadians consider a plant operating within 500 kilometres of their home (58%) or within their province (59%).
Further, the data indicate strong support among Canadians for increasing development of solar (81%) and wind power (74%). Support for the continued development of crude oil is muted nationally (50%), but higher in regions where it represents a significant economic pillar – Alberta (75%), Saskatchewan (72%) and Newfoundland and Labrador (72%).
Thinking specifically about nuclear power generation, how comfortable would you be with each of the following: (All respondents, n=5,030)
More Key Findings
Among the energy sources surveyed, Canadians are least supportive of the expanded use of hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking (31%), and coal mining (19%).
Quebec is the only province in which a majority (56%) oppose the expansion of nuclear power. Quebecers (70%), alongside Newfoundlanders and Labradorians (63%), say they are uncomfortable with a nuclear power plant in their province at a majority level.
At least two-thirds of men of all ages believe Canada should expand nuclear power as an energy source. Women are divided over the increased use of nuclear power (43% support, 38% oppose).
Oil & Gas
More than four-in-five (86%) past Conservative voters support the expansion of the use of oil and gas in Canada. One-third (32%) of those who voted Liberal in 2021, and one-quarter (23%) of those who voted NDP, say the same.
The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey from Nov. 28 to Dec. 3, 2022 among a representative randomized sample of 5,030 Canadian adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding. The survey was self-commissioned and paid for by ARI.
For detailed results by age, gender, region, education, and other demographics, click here.
To read the full report, including detailed tables and methodology, click here.
To read the questionnaire in English and French, click here.
Cover photo by Frédéric Paulussen
From the Angus Reid Institute, Canada’s non-profit foundation committed to independent research.For detailed breakdown of the results, visit angusreid.org