#COVID-19: Comparing provinces with other countries 11 November Update

Main news continues to be with respect to rapid increase in infections in most countries and provinces:
 
Weekly:
 
Infections per million: France ahead of New York, Italy and Sweden ahead of Quebec, British Columbia ahead of Philippines
 
Deaths per millionUK ahead of USA, France ahead of Sweden, Canadian North ahead of Nigeria
 
 
 

#COVID-19: Comparing provinces with other countries 4 November Update

Main news continues to be with respect to infections and relative increase of COVID cases and deaths in Prairie provinces:
 
Weekly:
 
Infections per million: Germany now ahead of Alberta, Canada, India, Prairies now ahead of Philippines
 
Deaths per million:nPrairies now ahead of Australia
 
 
 
 

After Ottawa monument is vandalized, Ontario adopts International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s ‘working definition of anti-Semitism’

Of note despite some of the valid concerns that the definition may be interpreted too broadly with respect to legitimate criticism of Israeli government policies:

The Ontario cabinet has adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s “working definition of anti-Semitism” after recent vandalism at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa.

Government House Leader Paul Calandra said Premier Doug Ford’s ministers “took swift and decisive action” Monday to recognize the definition even before the passage of legislation currently before the house.

“After a heinous act of anti-Semitism at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa … it is crucial that all governments be clear and united in fighting anti-Semitism and our adoption of the working definition has done just that,” Calandra said Tuesday.

“The government of Ontario is proud to adopt and recognize the working definition of anti-Semitism. We stand with Ontario’s Jewish community in defence of their rights and fundamental freedoms as we always have and always will,” he said.

Four years ago, the IHRA, an intergovernmental organization with 34 member nations, including Canada, adopted the definition that reads: “anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews.”

“Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities,” the definition continues.

While MPPs are currently reviewing Bill 168, the proposed Combating anti-Semitism Act, Calandra said the cabinet wanted to move more quickly with a largely symbolic gesture.

Ontario is the first province in Canada to use the working definition.

In a statement, Michael Levitt, president and CEO of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, said “we applaud the government of Ontario for joining the dozens of other governments around the world in adopting the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, a vital tool in the ongoing fight against hatred and discrimination targeting the Jewish community in Ontario.”

“Jews continue to be subjected to vile rhetoric and propaganda and still remain the minority group most targeted by hate crime, which is nothing less than an affront to our basic democratic values as Ontarians,” said Levitt, a former Liberal MP.

Not everyone was happy with the move.

While the New Democrats supported Bill 168, they expressed concern that the “government secretly adopted the definition, behind closed doors and passed it by Ford edict instead of by democratic vote.”

“Anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic acts of hate are growing in Ontario, and we need to take concrete actions as a province to stomp out this growing, racist movement,” said NDP MPP Gurratan Singh (Brampton East).

Source: After Ottawa monument is vandalized, Ontario adopts International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s ‘working definition of anti-Semitism’

#COVID-19: Comparing provinces with other countries 28 October Update

Main news continues to be with respect to infections:
 
Weekly:
 
Infections per million: UK higher than Quebec, Alberta higher than Canada, Germany higher than Ontario, Prairies higher than British Columbia 
 
Deaths per million: Prairies higher than Atlantic Canada, both higher than Pakistan
 
October 7-28 increase:
 
Infections per million: Prairies (Manitoba, Saskatchewan) join European countries in highest percentage increase
 
Deaths per million: Highest increase in Prairies, particularly Manitoba and Saskatchewan 
 
 

#COVID-19: Comparing provinces with other countries 21 October Update

Apart from overall large increases in infections in most jurisdictions, and corresponding increases in death rates in some, overall country and jurisdiction ranking largely unchanged.

Deaths per million: no change
 
Infections per million: Sweden now higher than UK (so much for herd immunity), Japan ahead of Atlantic Canada
 
Weekly:
 
 

#COVID-19: Comparing provinces with other countries 14 October Update

No changes in relative ranking as overall rate of infections climbs in most jurisdictions:

Weekly:
 
 

#COVID-19: Comparing provinces with other countries 7 October Update

Highlights:

Deaths per million: USA now ahead of UK

Infections per million: France and Quebec ahead of Sweden, Japan ahead of Atlantic Canada

Weekly:
 
 

When white Canadians think of racism, they think of America. These Black MPPs know better

Good conversation and discussion:

“Five Black politicians have changed the face of Ontario politics.

They’ve formed the first Black Caucus in the history of Canada’s most diverse province — which still has a mostly white legislature.

In the worst of times, their timing couldn’t be better. In the wake of the 2018 election that vaulted them to the provincial legislature, in advance of the violence-plagued summer of 2020 that sparked public protests, five New Democrats came together to speak out.

Now, they are being put to the test. We all are.

When white folks confront racism, their first thought is usually slavery or strife in America — with Canada as an afterthought. For the Black Caucus, the reality of racism is closer to home, here and now.

“When I as a Black person am thinking about racism, I don’t actually see a difference between the U.S. and Canada in the same way that a lot of white community members seem to believe is true,” Black Caucus chair Laura Mae Lindo told a Ryerson Democracy Forum I hosted Thursday on the NDP Black Caucus — why it matters.

“What I see is a similarity about how quickly we stop talking about racism in the U.S. and Canada — how quickly we accept people’s apologies for racist comments or denial of my history or denial of my humanity.”

Lindo, who spent much of her career before politics educating people on diversity — as a researcher and university administrator — has a keen eye for Canadian blind spots. And an ear for classic Canadian excuses.

“There’s a subtlety and a politeness in which Canadians perpetuate their anti-Blackness,” she muses. “And much of that is linked to their ability to just say, ‘I’m sorry,’ when somebody calls them on it.’”

Lindo came face to face with that in her Kitchener riding when she asked a gathering of Black students from the school district if the N-word was thrown around by white folks in their presence. Every single hand went up.

Not in America, not decades ago, here and now.

“I cried — I’ll be honest — because it’s shocking,” Lindo recalled. “It was overwhelming.”

And a life lesson for the mostly-white teachers in the classroom. Racism isn’t just accidental or incidental in Canada, it’s ingrained — even if sometimes invisible.

To cope with deadly serious racism, Lindo has resorted to humour as a teaching tool. Studying for her PhD in education, she focused on standup African American comedians for her doctoral thesis.

Diversity training for white folks too often tried to “guilt them and shame them into doing better.” She wanted to get their attention by harnessing humour, after realizing that “the people who were doing that best were the standup comedians.”

She coined the academic term “race-comics” to analyze their ability to “keep people in that room.” Laughing can make listen and learn the lessons of racism.

“I need to laugh…. We can’t do that if we’re angry all the time. Racism makes me rage-y, right?”

Fellow MPP Faisal Hassan recounted his own life story as an immigrant, experiencing homelessness, hardship and harassment on his way from the Horn of Africa to his Toronto riding of York South—Weston: As a Black male, he was carded a half-dozen times by local police.

But he described his journey in surprisingly resilient terms.

“My story is a happy story — I am an immigrant, I came here, and I have been welcomed,” Hassan told the students, many of whom wanted to know not just how he got to Canada, but how he got where he is today — in the legislature.

“Nobody’s going to give you anything,” he replied to student Stephen Mensah. “You have to be competitive, you have to be working hard with others, you have to show that you are going to be the voice of your community.”

Ontario needs more Black, Brown and Indigenous politicians so that people feel reflected in their institutions, added Jill Andrew, who represents St. Paul’s and proudly describes herself as the first Queer and Black elected representative in any provincial legislature.

“There’s a subtlety and a politeness in which Canadians perpetuate their anti-Blackness,” she muses. “And much of that is linked to their ability to just say, ‘I’m sorry,’ when somebody calls them on it.’”

Lindo came face to face with that in her Kitchener riding when she asked a gathering of Black students from the school district if the N-word was thrown around by white folks in their presence. Every single hand went up.

Not in America, not decades ago, here and now.

“I cried — I’ll be honest — because it’s shocking,” Lindo recalled. “It was overwhelming.”

And a life lesson for the mostly-white teachers in the classroom. Racism isn’t just accidental or incidental in Canada, it’s ingrained — even if sometimes invisible.

To cope with deadly serious racism, Lindo has resorted to humour as a teaching tool. Studying for her PhD in education, she focused on standup African American comedians for her doctoral thesis.

Diversity training for white folks too often tried to “guilt them and shame them into doing better.” She wanted to get their attention by harnessing humour, after realizing that “the people who were doing that best were the standup comedians.”

She coined the academic term “race-comics” to analyze their ability to “keep people in that room.” Laughing can make listen and learn the lessons of racism.

“I need to laugh…. We can’t do that if we’re angry all the time. Racism makes me rage-y, right?”

Fellow MPP Faisal Hassan recounted his own life story as an immigrant, experiencing homelessness, hardship and harassment on his way from the Horn of Africa to his Toronto riding of York South—Weston: As a Black male, he was carded a half-dozen times by local police.

But he described his journey in surprisingly resilient terms.

“My story is a happy story — I am an immigrant, I came here, and I have been welcomed,” Hassan told the students, many of whom wanted to know not just how he got to Canada, but how he got where he is today — in the legislature.

“Nobody’s going to give you anything,” he replied to student Stephen Mensah. “You have to be competitive, you have to be working hard with others, you have to show that you are going to be the voice of your community.”

Ontario needs more Black, Brown and Indigenous politicians so that people feel reflected in their institutions, added Jill Andrew, who represents St. Paul’s and proudly describes herself as the first Queer and Black elected representative in any provincial legislature.

She noted the impetus for creating Black Caucus — its two other members are Kevin Yarde (Brampton North) and Rima Berns-McGown (Beaches—East York) — came from members of the Black community who pointed out that the Official Opposition NDP now had enough MPPs to make it happen (two Black MPPs in the Liberal caucus, Mitzie Hunter and Michael Coteau, have not been invited to join the New Democrats).

Now the challenge is to get more outsiders inside the halls of power — and inside voting booths. Getting engaged, and getting elected, can be doubly hard for Blacks and Indigenous peoples, Lindo added.

“When you have been subject to the realities of a political system that has never seen you, kept you invisible, ignored your needs, used you — it’s very difficult to trust that the politician knocking on your door, asking for your vote, or putting her name forward is going to be any different,” the caucus chair told students.

“The formation of the Black Caucus at this point in history has pushed us to really look deep into our souls, too, and decide: ‘Are we going to push?’””

Source: https://www.thestar.com/politics/political-opinion/2020/10/04/a-black-caucus-at-queens-park-is-an-idea-whose-time-has-come.html

#COVID-19: Comparing provinces with other countries 30 September Update

Highlights:

Deaths per million:Canada less Quebec now ahead of Germany

Infections per million: Ontario now ahead of Germany, Canada less Quebec ahead of Philippines

Weekly:

Monthly Comparison (September 2-30 increase percent):
Infections: British Columbia and Prairies in top 5 jurisdictions with highest increases
Deaths: No provinces in top 5 in terms of increased death rates but British Columbia, Alberta and Prairies in top 10
The Globe has an editorial highly critical of the Ford government:

The German language probably has a word for the state of being surprised by the unsurprising, unprepared for the expected, and caught off guard by the danger you were on guard against. English does not have such a word. But when this pandemic is over, we are going to have to come up with one.

We’ll need it to describe what appears to be happening right now, in Canada.

Governments from coast to coast knew a second wave was coming. It was as predictable as fall. It was as expected as the rising of the sun. It was as surprising as the first snowfall – timing and severity uncertain; occurrence inevitable.

And yet, somehow, many governments have reacted like someone who forgot to set the alarm clock. Leading the parade of those surprised by the unsurprising is Premier Doug Ford’s Ontario government.

On Monday, Ontario reported 700 new cases of COVID-19, a new single-day record. Also on Monday, Ontario casinos reopened their doors to gamblers.

They say timing is everything in comedy and politics. In pandemics, too.

Also on Monday, the Ford government announced that, in response to the second wave, it would be hiring 3,700 more frontline health care workers. It’s a move that should have been made in May or June, not late September.

Still on Monday: Ontario reported processing more than 41,000 tests, but had a backlog of 49,586 waiting to be analyzed. By Tuesday, the backlog was nearly 55,000. The province, like many parts of the country, has recently seen enormous lineups at testing centres; lineups that are – how is this surprising? – driven by the predictable and predicted combination of rising infection rates and people needing to get tested to allow a safe return to school.

Yet again on Monday: The Ottawa Citizen obtained a memo showing that provincial health bureaucrats ordered a reduction in testing in some areas, owing to labs being overwhelmed. It’s another unsurprising result of too little test-processing capacity meeting growing demand for tests.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the pinned tweet at the top of Health Minister Christine Elliott’s Twitter feed still said: “It’s never been more important to get tested for #COVID19.” She’s right. The more people who get tested, the more often, the better. That should include lots of people who have no symptoms. But if everyone takes that advice to heart in the current system, where there are not enough tests or facilities to process them, Grade 3 math points to the inevitability of a surprisingly unsurprising outcome.

For anyone who remembers what Ontario went through last spring, that outcome looks all too familiar. We have lived this movie before.

Yes, Ontario is conducting several times more daily tests than it did back in April. Yes, Ontario has the second-highest provincial testing rate (Alberta is tops). There has been progress. There just hasn’t been enough.

With case numbers rising, as in the spring, and testing not keeping pace, as in the spring, this looks a lot like a sequel. The script has a disturbing amount of consistency. If it were run through plagiarism-detection software, someone would be getting an “F.”

More unsurprisingly surprising findings:

The most recent data from Toronto Public Health, as reported by the CBC, show that most people testing for COVID-19 don’t get results for at least two days. And nearly half of those who test positive are not followed up by contact tracers within 24 hours. Both of those numbers are well below the targets that need to be met for a program of heavy testing and contact tracing – which the province is supposed to have, but doesn’t – to be able to quickly find infected people before they infect others, and even more quickly track down anyone they may have infected.

In an effort to speed things up, the Ford government last week gave the green light for some pharmacies to begin administering tests to some asymptomatic individuals. The province also intends to hire more contact tracers. The mystery is why it didn’t do that months ago.

And last week, the province began rolling out plans for its response to the pandemic’s second wave. But this is like announcing in January that, in response to recent snowfalls, you plan to put out a tender for snowplows. It’s a bit late in the game.

And CBC has an analysis of what went wrong in Quebec:

A little over a month ago, Health Minister Christian Dubé congratulated Quebecers for their hard work at containing the spread of the coronavirus.

It was a Tuesday, Aug. 25, and the province had registered just 94 new cases of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours.

“We have really succeeded at controlling the transmission of COVID,” Dubé said at a news conference in Montreal.

It was a statement of fact, but the ground had already started to shift. In the weeks that followed, transmission increased. At first it grew slowly, then exponentially.

On Monday, the government implicitly acknowledged it has again lost control of the virus. The province is reimposing lockdown measures on Quebec’s two biggest cities, starting Oct. 1.

Until Oct. 28, Quebecers won’t be able to entertain friends or families at home. Bars, restaurant dining rooms, theatres and cinemas will also be closed.

“The situation has become critical,” Premier François Legault said Monday evening. “If we don’t want our hospitals to be submerged, if we want to limit the number of deaths, we must take strong action.”

The new measures will bring abrupt changes to the lives of millions of Quebecers. They will also prompt questions about how the public health situation could have deteriorated so quickly.

This story tries to trace how Quebec again lost control of the spread of COVID-19.

At first, a stern warning

As Dubé addressed reporters on that Tuesday in late August, public health officials in Quebec City were busy trying to track down patrons of Bar Kirouac, a watering hole in the working-class Saint-Sauveur neighbourhood.

A karaoke night at the bar ultimately led to 72 cases and the activity being banned in the province.

There were also numerous reports by then of young people holding massive house parties and flouting physical distancing recommendations. One of them, in Laval, led to a small outbreak.

On Aug. 31, as Quebec’s daily average of new cases neared 152 cases, Legault delivered a stern warning.

“There has been a general slackening in Quebec,” Legault said. “It’s important to exercise more discipline.”

Legault and his health minister threatened stiffer punishments for those who disobeyed public-health rules, but stopped short of imposing new restrictions.

Private gatherings identified as the culprit

In late August, public health officials were attributing the rise in infections to Quebecers returning home from vacations around the province, as opposed to the start of school.

Though Quebec’s back-to-school plan wasn’t met with widespread criticism, some experts expressed concern about the large class sizes and the lack of physical distancing guidelines for students.

The government also ignored advice that it should make masks mandatory inside the classroom.

But the first weeks of the school year went relatively smoothly. By the start of Labour Day weekend, only 46 out of the province’s 3,100 schools had reported a case of COVID-19. Importantly, there were no major outbreaks.

The problem was elsewhere. Outside schools, in the community at large, cases continued to rise. On Sept. 8, the province was averaging 228 cases per day.

By now public health officials had identified private gatherings as the main culprit behind the increase.Montreal’s regional director of public health, Dr. Mylène Drouin, was among those who urged more caution when hanging out with friends and family.

“Yes, we can have social activities, but we have to reduce contacts to be able to reduce secondary transmission,” Drouin said on Sept. 9.

Warning signs

In an effort to spell out the consequences of the increase in cases, the Quebec government unveiled a series of colour-coded alert levels.

Areas coded green would see few restrictions; yellow zones would see more enforcement of existing rules; orange zones would be the target of added restrictions; and red zones would see more widespread closures of non-essential activities.

When the scheme was announced on Sept. 8, Quebec City was classified yellow. Montreal was classified green.

At this point, though, health experts were already concerned that more was needed to curb the spread of the virus.”It is important to intensify these measures,” Dr. Cécile Tremblay, an infectious disease specialist with the Université de Montréal hospital network, said after the alert levels were announced.

The warning signs were starting to multiply.

Officials in Montreal were investigating 20 outbreaks at workplaces on Sept. 9; a week later that number had risen to 30. Long lines were also forming outside testing centres, filled with anxious parents and their children.

And more stories were circulating of private gatherings where the 10-person limit was ignored, angering the health minister.

He told reporters about a dinner with 17 people at a restaurant in Montérégie, which led to 31 cases. A corn roast in the Lower St. Lawrence, he said, resulted in 30 cases.

“To me, that’s unacceptable,” Dubé said on Sept. 15.”If people won’t understand from these examples then, I’m sorry, but they’ll never understand.”

He moved Montreal, and four other regions, into the yellow zones and banned bars from serving food after midnight. The province was averaging 338 new cases per day.

Second wave arrives

The warnings from the government did not curb the spread of the virus. By mid-September, authorities were reporting more cases in closed settings.

On Sept. 17, Herzliah High School in Montreal became the first school in the province to say it was shutting down for two weeks to deal with an outbreak. At least 400 other schools were also dealing with active cases of COVID-19.

Cases accumulated too in private seniors homes (known as RPAs), a major source of concern for public officials given the vulnerability of the residents to COVID-19.There were only 39 cases in RPAs at the start of the month, and 157 by Sept. 20.

On that day the government announced it was moving Montreal, Quebec City and the Chaudière-Appalaches region into the orange zone, the second-highest alert level. Private gatherings were capped at six people.

The province was by then averaging 501 new cases per day. The second wave had begun, according Quebec’s public health director, Horacio Arruda.

Red zone

Over the last week, Quebec’s health system has shown signs of strain as authorities race to contain the spread of the virus.

Drouin, the Montreal public health director, admitted on Sept. 21 that her contact-tracing teams were swamped by the demand.

Until now, the increase in cases had not been accompanied by a corresponding surge in hospitalizations. Most of the new cases were concentrated in younger people.But the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Quebec has increased by 45 per cent in the last seven days. Hospital staff are starting to get stretched. Several thousand health-care workers are in preventive isolation.

“We’re feeling the second wave,” Dr François Marquis, the head of intensive care at Montreal’s Maisonneuve-Rosemont hospital. “We were apprehensive about it, but now it’s a reality.”

On Monday, Quebec reported 750 new cases of COVID-19. Montreal and Quebec City were classified as red zones later that evening.

Source: How Quebec went from COVID-19 success story to hot spot in 30 days

COVID-19 disproportionately impacted immigrants and refugees in Ontario, new report finds

Better data confirming what we know:

The spread of COVID-19 has disproportionately affected immigrants, refugees and those who live in low-income neighbourhoods in Ontario, a new report has found.

The report released Wednesday by ICES, a not-for-profit research institute focusing on health-related data in Ontario, found that while immigrants and refugees in the province accounted for only about a quarter of those tested for COVID-19 between January and June, they represented 43.5 per cent of all positive cases.

“We document disproportionately higher rates of infection among those who landed in Ontario as economic caregivers, refugees, those with lower levels of education and language fluency, those who currently live in lower income neighbourhoods and with more crowded housing,” Dr. Astrid Guttmann, Chief Science Officer at ICES and lead author on the report, said in a statement.

“Apart from addressing many of (the) root causes of higher risk of infections, very high test positivity in certain groups of immigrants also suggests that there may be important barriers to testing that will be important to address if there is a second wave in Ontario this fall.”

The data was pulled from test results conducted between January 15 and June 13. According to the report, rates of testing were lower for most immigrants and refugees compared with Canadian-born and long-term residents—with an exception for economic caregivers who tend to work in health-care and were prioritized for testing.

The data found that of the 4.4 per cent of Canadian-born and long-term residents tested for COVID-19 in Ontario, 2.9 per cent tested positive.

Of the 3.4 per cent of people who identify as immigrants or refugees who were tested for COVID-19, 8.1 per cent received a positive diagnosis.

Refugees alone had the highest positivity rate within that time period at 10.4 per cent.

Chart

The report also found that while testing positivity peaked at the beginning of April among Canada-born and long-term residents, there were two “pronounced peaks of positivity” for immigrants, refugees and newcomers in April and May respectfully.

“The pandemic has sharpened the focus on structural and societal inequalities that have long existed,” the report reads. “These inequities put many racialized and immigrant populations at higher risk of both contracting the infection and suffering poor outcomes.”

The highest rates of positivity in Canada were found in racialized immigrants and refugees from Central, Western and East Africa, South America, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia and South Asia, the report found. The rates were also higher for those living in low-income neighbourhoods.

Public health units with larger immigrant populations such as Toronto, Peel Region, Durham Region, Waterloo, Windsor and York also reported a high number of COVID-19 positive patients among that demographic.

In Toronto specifically, 4,027 immigrants and refugees have tested positive for COVID-19 (9.8 per cent of those tested) compared to 3,788 Canadian-born patients (4.9 per cent of those tested).

What data was available and what was missing?

The general findings presented in the report are not necessarily new. Advocacy groups have been calling on all levels of government to support the gathering of race and socio-economic data for months, arguing that marginalized communities are disproportionately contracting or dying from COVID-19.

As a result of these calls, the City of Toronto began collecting race-based data in May.

Toronto Public Health said that of the data collected between May 20 and July 16, 83 per cent of known COVID-19 cases involve members of racialized communities.

It also found that patients with a household income level of $50,000 or less represents more than 50 per cent of reported infections in the city, despite the fact that the 2016 census revealed only 30 per cent of Toronto’s population reported being in that income bracket.

The data released by city officials are based on voluntary questions collected by a local public health unit.

Provincially, officials and politicians have all said they support the collection of race and income-based data, but they have yet to provide any information about the trends they are seeing.

In mid-June, the government proposed regulatory changes that would allow those who test positive for COVID-19 to be asked about their race, income, languages spoken and household size.

The questions are optional and the government said personal privacy would be protected. Since then, not much has been said about the data collection.

The ICES report said they were limited in the creation of the report by incomplete immigration data and could only include information on immigrants or refugees who landed in Ontario from January 1985 to May 2017 and who became permanent residents. They also included second-generation immigrant children under the age of 19 who were born in Ontario to permanent residents.

A “newcomer,” a status defined separately from an immigrant or refugee, is described as an individual who became eligible for OHIP after May 31, 2017

The authors also noted that ICES lacked data on “important risk factors for testing and positivity” such as occupation and living conditions.

“We currently do not have comprehensive data on important outcomes such as hospitalization and death,” the report says. “We have data on demographic and some census-based characteristics but not on the critical structural factors that play an important role in shaping inequities.”

ICES was able to access information on the health-care sector. The report found that employment as a health-care worker, especially among women, accounted for a disproportionate number of COVID-19 cases among immigrants and refugees. Among the 36 per cent of women employed as health-care workers and who tested positive in Ontario, 45 per cent were within that demographic.

Inequities ‘are complex’ and often rooted in racism

The report suggests that the “causes of these inequities are complex and often rooted in social and structural inequities, including systemic racism.”

It notes that a large proportion of immigrants, refugees and newcomers to Canada hold temporary or minimum-wage jobs at facilities where physical distancing is difficult. These positions may also not have paid sick leave or other health benefits.

ICES says that employment in any of these sectors— such as occupations in retail, factories or transportation– “is considered precarious” and could impact testing and quarantine.

Other factors such as language barriers, education and accessibility to quality healthcare could impact whether a person gets a COVID-19 test.

The not-for-profit is calling for more accessible testing options ahead of a possible second-wave in the fall as well as better training and enforcement of safety measures for those at risk of COVID-19 exposure in the workplace.

“A continued focus is needed on securing funding to house those who cannot safely quarantine in their homes or are homeless, as well as for income supplements for workers must quarantine who do not have employer-sponsored sick leave,” the report says.

The report also noted that the findings should be interpreted in the context of Ontario’s testing strategy. Initially, local public health units were only testing those in essential workplaces, those who had recently travelled and for those with acute medical conditions. Later that strategy evolved to include long-term care homes, hospitalized patients, and the general population, including asymptomatic patients.

“This means that some groups are over-represented in the testing numbers and that positive cases include those who were symptomatic at the time of testing, as well as those who were asymptomatic,” the report says.

“This may distort some associations of characteristics with both testing rates and potential to test positive. It also means that there is an unknown number of untested infected individuals in the general population.

Source: https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/covid-19-disproportionately-impacted-immigrants-and-refugees-in-ontario-new-report-finds-1.5097363