What's really behind rising numbers in one of Canada's COVID hotspots?
Brampton, just west of Toronto, has one of the highest rates of COVID-19 in Ontario if not Canada. Last month in one neighbourhood, nearly one in five COVID tests were positive. That’s five times the provincial average. There's been much speculation about why the virus is spreading, and this week, White Coat, Black Art host Dr. Brian Goldman goes to Brampton to find out more about that. His guide is Gurpreet Malhotra, the CEO of Indus, a non-profit community service agency that's helping people cope during the pandemic.
He tells Dr. Goldman that Brampton's high COVID numbers are largely related to working and living conditions that put people at risk. Brampton is one of the most ethnically diverse spots in Canada, and its large South Asian and Black communities have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. The area is a transportation hub, anchored by Pearson airport, which is surrounded by warehouses that ship goods all over the country. Residents who work in those industries are often considered essential workers who have trouble physically distancing on the job as packers, drivers or cleaners. Some are also new immigrants, who live in multi-generational families, where English is not their first language. On their tour of the city, they see evidence of cultural barriers, such as English-only signs about the virus. Malhotra believes chronic underfunding of health services has made people in his community more vulnerable to the virus, because they can't get culturally appropriate care.