Vancouver group urges BC to gather race-based coronavirus health data

Jun 8 2020, 3:08 pm

A City of Vancouver racial equity committee is asking the province to collect race-based health data to understand how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting marginalized communities.

When tracking coronavirus cases, BC currently collects information on each patient’s age, gender, health region. The only race data gathered is whether or not that person self-identifies as Indigenous.

“This pandemic, and future crises, cannot be effectively tackled without addressing underlying structural inequities that have exacerbated its escalation,” committee co-chair Ignatius But said in the release.

The group hopes collecting information about race and socio-economic status can quantify anecdotal evidence that racialized communities are disproportionately affected, and provide insight into how to remedy the situation.

People of colour are more likely to be employed in essential jobs in the healthcare, food, and transportation sectors, the committee said. They sometimes also face barriers such as smaller living quarters that make self-isolation difficult. In turn, these factors put them at higher risk of contracting coronavirus.

These realities are known anecdotally and evidenced by national-level reports. But in order to fully understand race-based health inequalities, health data first needs to be gathered based on race, the committee says.

Similar calls are coming from Toronto, where the coronavirus has hit even worse than in BC.

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