THE City of Vancouver’s Racial and Ethno-Cultural Equity Advisory Committee announced on Monday that it is joining the urgent call from community organizations and institutions across British Columbia and Canada for the collection of socio-demographic and race-based data to understand the impacts of COVID-19 on racialized communities. It added: “As members of our committee raised in a previous call with Councillor [Sarah] Kirby-Yung, collecting this data on COVID-19 is of utmost urgency.”
Marginalized groups experience health inequities despite the existence of Canada’s universal healthcare system
The advisory committee said: “We have ample evidence indicating that individuals and groups of different marginalized identities, including race, experience health inequities despite the existence of Canada’s universal healthcare system. Social determinants of health researchers have consistently echoed the findings of the 2018 report titled “Key Health Inequalities: A National Portrait”, where the Public Health Agency of Canada found that “significant health inequalities were observed for those with lower socioeconomic status, Indigenous peoples, sexual and racial/ethnic minorities, immigrants, and people living with functional limitations”. It is no longer a debate that a person’s identity has significant impacts on their income, employment, access to food and shelter among many other determinants of health.”
“This pandemic, and future crises, cannot be effectively tackled without addressing underlying structural inequities that have exacerbated its escalation. Our leaders need to start now by mandating the immediate collection of socio-demographic and race-based data in health and social services,” said Ignatius But, co-chair of the advisory committee.
Racialized communities are among the most likely to contract COVID-19
The advisory committee noted: “COVID-19 has exacerbated many of these structural inequities. Racialized communities are among the most likely to contract COVID-19 and face disproportionate challenges navigating life in the “new normal”. Racialized individuals are more often employed in sectors deemed essential (including healthcare, food, and transportation providers), live in smaller housing units where it is difficult to self-isolate, and face barriers to accessing information, resources and support services among other factors, thus contributing to their vulnerability. Poignant examples have splashed the headlines and have given us a glimpse of the situation; however, a thorough understanding of COVID-19’s impacts on racialized communities does not yet exist.”
It urged the Vancouver City Council and the Province of B.C. to take action on health inequities by
● Mandating the collection, use and analysis of disaggregated, socio-demographic and race-based data in health and social service sectors; and
● Ensuring that the collection of data is led by critical race researchers who identify as having racialized identities and experiences to ensure that the data collection measures meaningfully contribute to building a culturally safe health care system and is not used for any other purposes.