Ontario’s government is proposing a regulatory change to mandate the reporting of data on race, income, language, and household size for patients who have tested positive for COVID-19.
The province says this is in response to requests by community leaders and public health experts, and will help “ensure the province has a more complete picture of the outbreak.”
“As the COVID-19 outbreak has evolved locally, Ontario’s public health system has demonstrated remarkable responsiveness,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “As has been requested by community leaders, we are taking action to support and expand the work needed to help protect our communities all across the province.”
Under these proposed changes, individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 infection will be asked additional questions about their race, income, languages spoken, and household size.
According to the province, individuals can choose not to answer any or all of these questions.
“We recognize that some Ontarians may be at greater risk of COVID-19 infection. This includes racialized Ontarians and individuals with lower incomes,” said Elliott. “Collecting these data will help guide decisions as work continues to stop the spread of the virus and protect some of our most vulnerable people.”
To help implement this data collection effort, the province said it is engaging with health equity stakeholders and experts, including the Ontario Anti-Racism Directorate and Indigenous partners.
Toronto Public Health called on the province to immediately collect and share socioeconomic and race-based data on COVID-19 to inform a direct targeted response earlier this month.
The Public Health unit is already collecting and analyzing disaggregated data on coronavirus cases in the city.
And, an area-based analysis has shown that the virus is more prevalent in neighbourhoods that are low-income and have a higher percentage of immigrants and visible minorities.