An official survey shows the tumult created in B.C. by the novel coronavirus has hurt racialized people the most, with more than one in five Latin American, West Asian and Black respondents reporting job losses due to the pandemic.
Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry said at Thursday’s daily COVID-19 briefing that the results of a recent online survey of 394,000 people confirmed a trend seen in many other places: The virus and the measures taken to slow its growth have disproportionately affected non-white people. The results did not touch on who has been infected, but charted how people of different ethnicities have fared with regards to unemployment, financial stress, and access to health care and food.
“The challenge has not been shared equally,” she said as she revealed the results of the survey done by the BC Centre for Disease Control, a government agency.
The information comes as British Columbia logs an additional 78 confirmed cases of the virus. The numbers have been creeping up all summer, leading to a recent spike that Dr. Henry says is driven by younger people socializing.
The provincial average for losing a job due to the pandemic was 15.5 per cent, according to the survey. Only white respondents reported recent unemployment at below that rate, 14 per cent. People of every other ethnicity reported rates above the provincial average, with the highest affecting Latin American people at 22.6 per cent, West Asian or Arabic people (21.5 per cent), and Black people (21.1 per cent).
That same inequality was seen when respondents were asked about whether they had more money troubles. The provincial average was 32 per cent of respondents saying they had increased financial problems, with 29 per cent of white people reporting these issues.
Neither Dr. Henry nor the provincial health ministry explained why Indigenous respondents were not represented in the survey results released on Thursday.
Japanese, multi-ethnic and Korean respondents were the most likely to report difficulty accessing health care. On the other hand, Latin American, Southeast Asian and Black respondents were the most likely to report feeling more connected to family since the province began its state of emergency in March.
The survey also showed people at the income level of less than $60,000 reported having a harder time meeting their financial needs and putting enough food on the table, and that they were more likely to be out of work.
Among respondents with school-aged children, lower-income households reported more stress on their kids, more barriers to learning and a decreased connection to their friends.
At Thursday’s briefing, Health Minister Adrian Dix and Dr. Henry spent most of their time addressing the increase in cases. Mr. Dix warned anyone ignoring physical distancing at parties this weekend that public-health inspectors will be out enforcing rules at bars and banquet halls.
Since early July, people in their 20s have made up the highest proportion of new cases, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. From July 29 to Aug. 4, more than 40 per cent of cases nationally for which data were available were reported in people 29 or younger.
In B.C., this group accounts for about 32 per cent of cases since July 1, while people in their 30s make up about 22 per cent. In Alberta, people in their 20s make up the largest proportion of active cases, at 22 per cent, while people in their 30s followed with 19 per cent.
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