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Lower economic status, racialized communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19 in BC: survey

Citynews 1130 Vancouver

Last Updated Aug 13, 2020 at 6:33 pm PDT

FILE - In this July 30, 2020, file photo, passengers board a Casco Bay Lines ferry bound for Peaks Island in Portland, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — As COVID-19 cases continue to spike in B.C., among young people in particular, new data from a provincial survey shows those of lower economic status and people in racialized communities are disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

“We know it has affected communities across British Columbia, but we know it has differentially impacted those of lower economic status, people in racialized communities, and we now have to look at how can we support communities across B.C. to move on to recover from that and to build back stronger and more resilient,” Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said while announcing 78 new cases on Thursday.

The information comes from the province’s COVID-19 survey, which 390,000 people responded to in B.C.

“And as we can see, there was a differential impact on racialized populations in British Columbia. Not a surprise to us, but it is something that we need to pay attention to,” Henry added.

“We see that that West Asian, Latin American, and South Asian respondents were more likely to report increased difficulty meeting their financial needs during this period of time, and more likely to report not working directly because of COVID-19, whereas Caucasian respondents had less difficulty making ends meet, fewer were not working, fewer were less likely to avoid health care, and had less food insecurity.”

Health care and education

The survey also looked at difficulty accessing healthcare.

“And, again, we see a differential, where 30 per cent of Japanese, Korean, and other South Asian respondents were more likely to report having difficulty.”

It also showed Latin American, Southeast Asian, and Black respondents were more likely to report an increased connection to family, which Henry said is a positive result and shows resiliency.

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“The other concerning thing,” she said, “is Caucasian respondents were more likely to report things like increased alcohol consumption.”

The survey found further that individuals in lower income brackets suffer more negative, economic, and health consequences from the pandemic.

“In particular, people in the lowest income level, had difficulty meeting financial needs were up to over half had concerns in that area, while 40 per cent were food insecure because of the pandemic, and a quarter of people in the lowest income bracket were not working due to COVID-19.”

People and with lower incomes were also more likely to have chronic health conditions, experienced increased concern about their health, and were less able to stay home from work when they were sick.

Henry added the survey also provided insight into how the pandemic has affected school-aged children, with 76 per cent reporting their learning was impaired during the pandemic. Another 78 per cent reported a decreased connection with friends, while 60 per cent reported increased stress.

“So these are all important considerations for how we move forward and the decisions that we’re making for the coming weeks and months,” Henry said.