Alternative Facts, Fake News, Post-Truth: What is the Impact of the Information Crisis on Quebecers’ Trust?

The 3rd annual CanTrust Index gives an overview of the level of consumer trust


Montreal (Quebec), April 24, 2018 — The information crisis is feeding a renewed public appetite for news and editorial content from credible sources. The results of the 2018 CanTrust Index reveal considerable growth of trust in traditional media and advertising and a decline in trust for social networks, bloggers, and influencers of unproven expertise.

The CanTrust Index is a nation-wide survey conducted for Toronto communications agency Proof (formerly Environics Communications) and its partner, Capital-Image of Montreal. It assesses levels of trust in various sources of information from a sampling of 1,560 Canadians, including 584 Quebecers.


Web use is up, but credible sources are most valued

Since the first CanTrust Index in 2016, Quebecers’ trust in editorial content has grown by 7 points (56% in 2016 to 63% this year) and risen as well by 9 points in traditional advertising (36% in 2016 to 45% this year).

However, trust in organizations or businesses with a presence on social networks has decreased (37% in 2016 to 35% this year) and fallen ever so slightly in online consumer review sites like Trip Advisor (45% in 2016 to 44% this year).

Interestingly, 47% of Quebecers say they trust editorial content shared through online web sites (compared to 41% in 2016). This means that while Quebecers are generally confident about the accuracy of what they read online, they are increasingly looking toward more credible sources of information.

The survey also shows that trust in bloggers has fallen (28% in 2016 to 22% this year). Quebecers have significantly more confidence in bloggers/influencers who are experts in their fields (60%) and share legitimate content (46%) than they do for those who simply have large followings without the credentials (7%) and even those who are followed by friends or family members (21%).

‘‘What we’re seeing at Capital-Image is that online influencers and bloggers have created a phenomenon that’s bigger than ever. If they clearly demonstrate expertise, are transparent and authentic, and disclose when they’re being paid, they have a winning formula,” according to Capital-Image Senior Vice-President Silvie Letendre.

The following chart shows Quebecers’ most trusted sources of information since 2016.

Trust in businesses remains higher in Quebec than in the rest of Canada

Quebecers are among those who place the highest trust in large businesses (42% compared to 28% nationwide). Of equal note is increased trust in small and mid-sized companies since 2017 (55% to 59%).

“Quebec is home to several large businesses like Desjardins, Groupe Jean-Coutu, Hydro-Québec and Bombardier so this proximity and the identification that Quebecers feel to these businesses could at least partly explain the difference,” notes Silvie Letendre. “For businesses operating in Quebec, the data points to the importance of constantly tailoring interactions with their customers and being active in the community in a way that builds greater attachment and loyalty.”


Facebook, Google, and Artificial Intelligence (AI)

  • Facebook has lost an enormous amount of trust in Quebec this year1: Only 40% of Quebecers said they trusted Facebook in 2018, compared to 55% in 2017, while trust in other technology platforms like Google (73%) remains fairly high.
  • Quebec is more receptive to AI than the rest of Canada: 41% of Quebecers think that AI can improve their consumer experience, compared to 37% in the rest of Canada. And 47% of Quebecers think that AI can make a positive contribution to the Canadian economy, compared to 39% of those on the national level.
  • AI: Respondents between the ages of 25 and 49, especially men, are more likely to place trust in artificial intelligence.


About the CanTrust Index
The 2018 CanTrust Index was conducted by the communications agency Proof (formerly Environics Communications) in partnership with Capital-Image. It examines Canadians’ perceptions of and preferences in their sources of information and the trust they hold in businesses and organizations. The data are collected through an online survey of 1,560 Canadians, 18+ years of age, including 584 Quebecers, carried out from January 18 to February 5, 2018. The sample is nationally representative of the Canadian population by region, age, and gender. For more information, go to


1 – The 2018 CanTrust Index was conducted before the Cambridge Analytica scandal.