A new survey reveals that four-in-five Canadians feel sustainable living is much easier for wealthy people. 

Onyen Corporation, an Environmental Social Governance (ESG) reporting software company, asked investors and consumers several questions to determine their personal commitments on workforce diversity, ethical supply chains, and companies’ obligations to the communities in which they operate.

The survey found that young adults aged 18-34 are more likely to believe that sustainable living is much easier for wealthy people at 83% than adults aged 55-plus at 75%.

“The onus of sustainability has often been placed on consumers, but that has changed,” said Laurie Clark, Onyen CEO. 

“As companies seek greater access to capital, and now $175 trillion dollars in financial assets targeting Net Zero, they will need to consider their ESG strategies and reporting to ensure their ongoing viability.”

The survey also found that four-in-five consumers (81%) are willing to extend the life of their cell phone an extra year or more if it benefits the environment, according to the survey. But, only 38%  feel strongly about this commitment.

“While the numbers are heartening, the truth is in the details here for many of the responses,” said Clark. “Real change happens when people move from feeling strongly about something to acting on it.”

Another three-quarters of Canadians expressed concern about the environmental risks of transporting hazardous materials, and the same proportion (76%) acknowledged that there are environmental risks embedded in supply chains. When taking a closer look at the numbers, only 31 and 22% feel strongly about these categories, respectively.

 “With the 10-year anniversary of the deadly Lac-Mégantic rail disaster upon us and the Ohio train derailment still in the news, we wanted to shine a spotlight on Canadian attitudes of supply chain safety,” said Clark. “In my view, while many people want manufacturing jobs in their communities, they often don’t want to inherit the risks of transporting those goods.”

On Feb. 3, 2023, 38 cars of a Norfolk Southern freight train carrying hazardous materials derailed in East Palestine, Ohio. Several railcars burned for more than two days before emergency crews conducted a controlled burn at the request of state officials, releasing hydrogen chloride and phosgene into the air.

The Ohio attorney general is now suing Norfolk Southern to force them to pay for groundwater and soil monitoring as well as economic losses. 

From February 22- 24, Onyen’s online survey was conducted among a nationally representative sample of 1,506 Canadians who are members of the Angus Reid Forum, balanced and weighted on age, gender, region and education. For comparison purposes, a sample of this size would carry a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. 


  • Rachel Emmanuel

    Rachel is a seasoned political reporter who’s covered government institutions from a variety of levels. A Carleton University journalism graduate, she was a multimedia reporter for three local Niagara newspapers. Her work has been published in the Toronto Star. Rachel was the inaugural recipient of the Political Matters internship, placing her at The Globe and Mail’s parliamentary bureau. She spent three years covering the federal government for iPolitics. Rachel is the Alberta correspondent for True North based in Edmonton.