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City of Vancouver pushes for race-based, socioeconomic data on COVID-19

Last Updated Jun 25, 2020 at 8:25 pm PDT

FILE -Vancouver city hall. (Marcella Bernardo, NEWS 1130 Photo)

Addressing the impact of the pandemic on marginalized communities requires data: advocates

The motion by the city got the attention of the province while it was being drafted

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Vancouver city council has unanimously endorsed a call to the province to collect race-based and socioeconomic data amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The motion was brought to council Wednesday asks for data to be collected in order to understand how “race, income, disability, and other social determinants of health” affect access to healthcare and social services.

The collection of this data will allow public health officials, researchers, and service providers to get a better sense of how COVID-19 is affecting marginalized communities.

Amal Rana is with the city’s Racial Ethno Cultural Equity Advisory Committee.

She says it’s hard to help those communities right now when we’re not tracking the numbers.

“We’re hearing stories about migrant workers, other frontline low income workers who are being exposed in various sectors. Many of whom are racialized people.” Rana said.

“While we know that these stories are out there, we understand there’s a lot of impact, but we don’t have the data to actually address the issues in a specific and tangible way.”

The motion from the City of Vancouver ramps up calls for data to be collected that helps identify — and ultimately address — the way the pandemic is affecting racialized communities.

“We need to be humble enough to listen to and learn from decades of available research on social determinants of health and well-being and from many community leaders and organizations who point to socially differentiated access to and quality of health services and care. Quite importantly, we need to let go of the idea that intersecting forms of racial and social difference do not matter here in Vancouver and in B.C.,” Dr John Paul Catungal from the Tulayan Filipino Diaspora Society relayed in a statement through the City of Vancouver.

Meantime, Premier John Horgan wants answers by mid-September from the Provincial Human rights commissioner, and the Information and privacy commissioner on how this data can be collected.

Rana tells NEWS 1130 that the motion by the city got the attention of the province while it was being drafted.

“There’s just been so much momentum happening. From the beginning of the pandemic, so many racialized groups and migrant worker organizations have been pushing for this. The motion is actually led by people in the community working deeply with councillors. I think it spurred the province, and the province was already having those discussions as well.”

Rana adds that the next step is to make sure that the proper protocols are put in place.

“We have to keep the pressure on the province to make this happen in an urgent and timely fashion. Racialized communities are worried because historically data like this has been used against them. We need to immediately collect the data and release it so that we understand how to provide resources to our community. This pandemic is not over.”