QUEEN’S PARK – Andrea Horwath, Leader of the Official Opposition New Democrats, is calling on the Ford government to listen to experts and collect race and socio-demographic data on COVID-19. Horwath said this is critical to preventing worse health outcomes for Black and racialized Ontarians during the pandemic.
In the United States, data collected from many urban centres have shown an alarming trend of disproportionate COVID-19 deaths and infection rates amongst Black populations. It’s unclear whether this could be the case in Ontario, because the province isn’t collecting race-based health data.
“Black, Indigenous and racialized Ontarians were already suffering from poorer health outcomes and barriers to access before the province was thrust into a pandemic,” said Horwath. “Now we’re seeing troubling signs in other places that these inequities — and the worse health outcomes that come with them —are continuing unchecked with the spread of COVID-19.”
Studies have shown that Black people are underrepresented in medical research, that racial bias and anti-Black racism contribute to doctors treating Black patients’ pain less effectively, and that Black people have more adverse maternal health outcomes. In addition, Black Ontarians have high rates of chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, sickle cell, stroke and hypertension — all conditions that could make COVID-19 more dangerous.
Black health experts have long advocated for the government to include race and socio-demographic information when it collects health data in order to fight inequity in health care. The Toronto Central LHIN has been collecting race and socio-demographic data since 2010.
“It’s time for the province to start collecting data on how Black and racialized Ontarians are experiencing COVID-19,” said Horwath. “Without a complete picture of how we’re doing, we can’t make decisions that ensure the best possible health outcomes for everyone so we can get through this pandemic together.”