Our risk of illness is linked to how and where we live, work, and play. COVID-19 has had a greater impact on people who already faced health inequities before the pandemic. Evidence shows that racialized populations and low income groups are more at risk of COVID-19. The reasons for this include:
- Pre-existing health, social and economic disparities which have been highlighted and deepened by the pandemic
- Systemic racism and other discrimination that creates unfair barriers to opportunity, health and well-being, safety, fair treatment, and resources for some groups of people
- Living and working conditions that put people some people at higher risk, including:
- Being essential workers who cannot work from home
- Job insecurity and lack of paid sick days
- Needing to commute on crowded public transportation
- Living in crowded housing
- Inequitable access to health care and social services
Toronto Public Health (TPH) started collecting data on Indigenous identity, racial group, income, and household size on May 20, 2020. Data on ethno-racial identity, income and household size are analyzed and summarized here monthly. Data on Indigenous identity are not being reported by TPH. TPH supports Indigenous-led uses and reporting of Indigenous COVID-19 data, and consults with Indigenous partners on an ongoing basis.
The data are used to inform work by the City of Toronto, Toronto Public Health, health care and community partners to address inequities in COVID-19 by focusing on specific neighbourhoods and populations that have been most impacted by COVID-19. This work includes:
- Expanding vaccine access and reducing barriers
- Expanding access to COVID-19 testing through mobile and pop-up testing, outreach and promotion
- Sharing public health information, supplies and promoting vaccine uptake through outreach and engagement
- Providing supports for isolation for those unable to safely do so at home
- Addressing other socio-economic impacts of COVID-19
- Continuing to bring attention to the social determinants of health and how other levels of government can address them
- Longer-term planning and advocacy for a more equitable system of health and social services
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Area-based analysis also shows that ethno-racial group and income are associated with reported COVID-19 infection.