Human Rights Commissions call for national strategy for collection of disaggregated health data

CANADA’S federal, provincial and territorial human rights commissions on Friday issued a letter calling on the Government of Canada to develop and implement a nation-wide strategy for the collection of disaggregated health data focused on race and Indigeneity.

‘Colour-blind’ approaches to health only serve to worsen health outcomes for Black, Indigenous and racialized people because we can’t address what we can’t see.” said BC’s Human Rights Commissioner Kasari Govender. 

“We know that the national collection and analysis of health data that includes race and Indigeneity are critical to identifying inequalities and advancing human rights in Canada. We also know that this data is essential to truly understanding and addressing the impact of the pandemic in our communities. Without this analysis, we are less able to craft policy that responds appropriately to the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on marginalized groups,” she said.

Traditional health data collection approaches, which are based on a high level of aggregation and are primarily designed to produce national averages, reveal limited information about the severity of the impact of the virus on vulnerable and marginalized Canadians, including African Canadians, Indigenous peoples, people with disabilities, women, older people living alone or in institutions, and low-income communities. 

“Just as importantly, these communities must have a say in how this data is released. While this collection is vital, we must also work to mitigate the risk that this data will be used to reinforce stigmatization or marginalization for communities that have already experienced harm as a result of COVID-19 and historic discrimination in Canada,” she said.

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