The City of Toronto has released the Black Community COVID-19 Response Plan to better address pandemic needs.
On Wednesday, Mayor John Tory unveiled the plan developed in December 2020 to provide enhanced support for Black Torontonians.
The plan was developed as part of the TO Supports: Targeted Equity Action Plan and in response to data released in late 2020. It was revealed the highest rates of COVID-19 cases in Toronto, 26%, and “vaccine hesitancy” experienced by Canadians, about 30%, were among the Black community.
“Throughout the pandemic, it has been clear that COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted certain communities in our city, including Black residents. A targeted approach was necessary to not only ensure that those who need support are receiving it but to further stop the spread of the virus,” Tory said in a statement.
“The work that we are doing on the ground with our partner agencies will address the systemic barriers many of our residents were facing when accessing supports and services.”
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To help reduce the number of COVID-19 cases and address the issues around vaccine trust and confidence, the City has partnered with community agencies to provide COVID-19 health and safety awareness in Black communities and work with experts to prepare for and support immunization.
According to the city, the work with experts includes the development of the Black Scientists’ Task Force on Vaccine Equity, with the goal of reducing the immediate risk of disease transmission and hospitalization.
“To beat COVID, we must address pre-existing inequities that this pandemic has laid bare. Public health data has clearly shown that systemic inequities, including anti-Black racism and discrimination, have resulted in the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black communities in our city. I want to recognize and thank the leaders in Toronto’s Black communities who have been on the frontlines of this work, and who are now partnering with City staff to develop public health recommendations that are tailored to the unique needs and concerns of Toronto’s Black communities,” said Councillor Joe Cressy.
Toronto Public Health is also supporting the initiative along with many of Canada’s top Black scientists involved in key aspects of vaccine development and public health.
Together they will review the major concerns around COVID-19 testing and levels of vaccine acceptance and develop public health recommendations to effectively address this within the Black community.
The task force is scheduled to present a final report of its findings and recommendations to the City by April 30.