CALGARY -- Do you have an opinion about the wearing of face masks during the pandemic? Then researchers at the University of Calgary want to hear from you.

A survey is underway asking Calgarians if they are choosing to wear face masks as protection from COVID-19 or not, and why.

The survey is open to all Calgarians over age 18, and researchers are hoping to receive at least 1,000 responses from people of all races, genders, and backgrounds and from all areas of the city.

“We are asking, ‘What are the behaviours or reasons that are driving that decision to not wear a mask?’" said Dr. Katrina Milaney, an associate professor at the U of C's Cumming School of Medicine.

"It’s important for us to understand these behaviours for public safety in terms of reducing spread of the virus, but also because of the angst that it causes Calgarians and business owners, and the pressure that it puts on city officials.”

Anti-mask rallies have been happening throughout the pandemic in Calgary since masks became mandatory while at indoor public places like recreation centres and on Calgary Transit. City council voted earlier this month to increase the fine for non-compliance to $500, up from $100, but that has yet to be put into effect.

“There are lots of rules we have to follow and things that we have to do as citizens to make sure that we’re safe, and that our neighbours and communities are safe,” said Milaney.

"I’m curious about why people are landing on this idea of a mask as a thing that they’re resistant to.”

Data collected will help the city develop more effective communications about the value and importance of mask wearing to help protect the local community.

 “Mask wearing continues to play a significant role in reducing the spread of COVID-19. Although support for the practice is strong, not everyone supports The City’s Face Coverings Bylaw,” says Krista Ring, manager of web, research and projects at the city. 

 “It is more important than ever to make objective and fact-based decisions in government. Being able to accurately reflect back citizen perspectives to our city administration, elected officials, and Calgary’s citizens creates transparency and accountability as well as building trust.”

The survey can be complete online