Prof urges B.C. to collect data on race, ethnicity to better understand COVID-19 impacts

A University of British Columbia professor wants the B.C. government to collect data on race and ethnicity to determine whether some communities are being disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

J.P. Catungal, a professor at UBC’s Social Justice Institute, said Filipino-Canadians are over-represented in essential industries such as health care, long-term care, and food service.

“In terms of hospitalization, who is being admitted? Who is dying or recovering? Are there differences in terms of severity that are affected by race and ethnicity?” Catungal said.

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Pre-existing conditions or access to care may be factors, he said, but health officials need to be informed by race- and ethnicity-based data.

R.J. Aquino of Tulayan, a group for members of the Filipino diaspora in Vancouver, said the government needs to be more forthcoming with translated and tailored messaging so that communities know how they can protect themselves.

“From health decisions to figuring out what happens with unemployment, to taking advantage of the benefits the government has been putting out to support communities during this pandemic,” he said, adding that community groups have taken the initiative to provide elders with translated and culturally appropriate messaging.

A recent analysis by the Associated Press examined the racial disparities of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. and found the virus is disproportionately affecting people of colour.

— With files from Jon Azpiri

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