When the COVID-19 curve spikes, it spikes most for our racialized communities.

People of colour are overrepresented in COVID infection rate data.

According to data from the city of Toronto, people of colour are at least five times more likely than their white counterparts to be infected with COVID-19.

People of colour contract COVID at higher rates.

Taking a close look at this chart, the white population in Toronto is contracting COVID-19 at a rate of 0.33% which is the lowest of all the etho-racial groups on the chart. The data indicates that people of colour are at higher risk of contracting the disease than their white counterparts.

Toronto’s population breakdown is crucial in interpreting this data

This chart shows that the white Torontonians account for 49% of the population whereas Black Torontonians are less than 10% of the total population. These racialized communities do not account for the majority of Toronto’s population, but they do account for the majority of COVID-19 cases.

Total count data can be misleading on its own

This chart that shows total counts of COVID-19 by each ethno-racial group is important, but it can be misleading without all the data shown above. In this chart it seems that white Torontonians are contracting COVID-19 at similar rates of South Asian Torontonians, but this is because white people are a majority of the population in Toronto. White Torontonians have a larger population by almost 4x the South Asian population and yet the South Asian line still spikes higher for total counts. This is a very alarming statistic when presented with the rate of contraction data.

There are many factors that try to explain this disparity.

Experts say that factors for contracting COVID-19 are complicated and can include pre-existing medical conditions caused by environmental racism, income status and disparities in housing or employment.

The next steps for Toronto?

This data is pushing the City of Toronto to action. Toronto has created a Black Scientists’ Task Force on Vaccine Equality. Toronto Mayor John Tory says Torontonians of African and Caribbean descent currently experience high amounts of COVID-19 as well as the highest rates of vaccine hesitancy.

Data about Indigenous Torontonians are not included in reports.

One gaping hole in research done by the city: Toronto has not provided statistics about Indigenous people. Toronto has the largest Indigenous population in Ontario and the 4th largest in Canada according to the 2016 census data. Indigenous people not being included in this data makes it more difficult to understand how this virus is affecting populations differently.

Canada does not publish race-based COVID-19 data.

Montreal city council voted on February 23 to push the federal and provincial governments to collect and publish race-based COVID-19 data. This also includes registering ethnic and socioeconomic status of positive cases.

The motion, developed in cooperation with the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR), says the goal is to better understand systemic disparities in marginalized communities and create more effective health measures to address these inequalities.

They claim that gathering race-based COVID-19 data would be a start in helping the federal and provincial governments to adequately allocate resources to combat these inequities.

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