British Columbia

People of colour in B.C. likelier to suffer job loss, financial hardship from COVID-19, survey reveals

People of colour in B.C. are likelier to have suffered job loss and financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new data from the province.

Province's COVID-19 survey completed by 395,000 British Columbians

A person wearing a face mask is pictured in a reflection from an advertisement in downtown Vancouver. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

People of colour in B.C. are likelier to have suffered job loss and financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new data from the province.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry revealed Thursday some of the responses to the province's COVID-19 population healthy survey, laying out the toll the pandemic has had on people of different ethnic and racial backgrounds.

About 395,000 British Columbians completed the survey, which asked questions about the financial and societal impact the pandemic had taken on them.

"There was a differential impact on racialized populations in British Columbia," Henry said. "Not a surprise to us, but it is something that we need to pay attention to."

Those who identified as West Asian, Latin American and South Asian respondents were the most likely to report difficulties in meeting financial needs.

West Asian, Latin American and Black respondents were the most likely to report job losses caused by the pandemic.

White respondents faced fewer financial difficulties and were more likely to be working, but reported drinking more alcohol.

Japanese, Korean and South Asian respondents were most likely to have difficulty accessing health care. 

Latin American, Southeast Asian and Black respondents were also the most likely to report increased connection to family.

Calls for race-based data

The survey results come amid calls for the province to collect race-based COVID-19 data to understand the impacts of the virus on people of various races and ethnic backgrounds.

Kevonnie Whyte, a member of  the City of Vancouver's racial and ethno-cultural equity advisory committee, said earlier this week the survey results don't give a complete picture because the information is voluntary.

"We need it to be mandatory," Whyte said. 

The survey also found those with incomes less than $60,000 reported issues with food security as well as trouble meeting their financial needs.

More than three-quarters of households with school-aged children said the pandemic had impaired their learning, and 59 per cent said the pandemic had increased their child's stress.

"These are all important considerations for how we move forward and the decisions we're making in the coming weeks and months," Henry said.

The province has said students will return to school by Sept. 10.

With files from The Canadian Press

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