Toronto pushing province to start collecting and sharing COVID-19 data around race and jobs

Toronto City Council is officially calling on provincial health officials to start collecting province-wide data on COVID-19 cases, broken down by race, occupation, and other “socioeconomic factors.”

According to a news release issued Tuesday, Coun. Joe Cressy, who also chairs the city’s board of health, sent a letter to both Health Minister Christine Elliott and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams in an effort to push the province to start collecting the data.

“The old adage of ‘what gets measured gets done’ is especially relevant right now. In order to tackle COVID-19 we must fully understand it, and who is most at risk,” Cressy said in a statement.

“Toronto’s data has shown that while we’re all susceptible to the virus, parts of the city are more impacted than others. In order to protect our residents and beat COVID-19, we need the Ontario Government to collect and share disaggregated data.”

The province isn’t currently collecting this data, but Toronto Public Health has been.

According to the news release, an analysis has shown that the virus is more prevalent in low-income neighbourhoods, and areas that have a higher percentage of immigrants and visible minorities.

Previously-released figures from the city found that of people who had been tested, the group with the highest percentage of people living below the poverty line had the highest rate of COVID-19 cases. Similar trends emerged for hospitalizations.

When asked earlier in the pandemic if Ontario planned to collect such data, Williams replied that the groups identified to be most at risk are the elderly, people with underlying conditions and those with compromised immune systems.

“So those are all priorities to us, regardless of race, ethnicity or other backgrounds. They’re all equally important to us,” Williams answered.

According to the latest available city figures, as of 3 p.m. on Sunday, there were 11,338 cases of the novel coronavirus in Toronto, alongside 8,630 recovered cases and 828 deaths.

The city was counting 1,880 active cases as of Sunday.

Toronto has also posted a map showing cumulative cases and rates by neighbourhood, which you can view here.


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