Canadians rank journalists among the least-trusted professions according to a new index published by the public relations firm Edelman.

The 2022 Trust Barometer shows that 61% of people polled said that journalists are “purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations.” The figure grew by 12% when compared to last year. 

Other groups Canadians felt were trying to mislead them include business leaders (60%) and the government (58%). 

Meanwhile, 71% of Canadians said that they were concerned with “fake news being used as a weapon.” 

Trust in the legacy media has also severely declined over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2022, 57% of Canadians said they trusted traditional media, down from 71% in 2019. 

A majority of Canadians totalling in at 59% also reported that “people in this country lack the ability to have constructive and civil debates about issues they disagree on.” 

Overall trust in journalists and reporters sat at 50% while only 43% said they trusted government leaders and a meagre 36% had any trust for CEOs.

More people also saw the government and media as a dividing force than a unifying force. 45% said that the government did more to divide society while only 32% said that it was working to unite people. 

As for the media, 44% of people said that the media was working to divide people while only 32% saw it as a unifying force. 

“The second year of the global pandemic has put institutions to the test in unprecedented ways. We have seen an increase in the expectations Canadians have for CEOs to lead on societal issues; persistent societal fears which has led to a lack of economic optimism; and the battle for truth, alongside the rise of disinformation,” wrote Edelman. 

“Rebuilding trust is the key to societal stability, and to restoring the ability for the four institutions to function well and address societal challenges. Business must recognize that its societal role is here to stay. Canadians want more business leadership, not less.”