OTTAWA -- The Somerset West Community Health Centre says a community strategy to address the high risks faced by racialized communities in Ottawa during the COVID-19 pandemic must go beyond priority testing.

During a technical briefing with City of Ottawa officials, SWCHC Executive Director Naini Cloutier said that early reports show 66 per cent of the COVID-19 cases in Ottawa are from racialized communities.

In Toronto, 83 per cent of COVID-19 cases are from racialized communities.

Cloutier said the Somerset West Community Health Centre is proposing a "more holistic approach" to address the COVID-19 risks for racialized communities. 

"We are saying the intervention needs to happen more than testing. There needs to be more protection in place. There needs to be an approach where the social determinates of health, employment, transportation, access to food, access to social distancing, housing, are all important."

There are three components to the strategy.

  1. A care pathway for primary care providers that includes assessing for social determinants of health and social support risk flags: such as food, transportation, employment;
  2. Wrap-around community support resources that include tailored messages that speaks to community experiences;
  3. A strategic community priority testing team to respond to people and communities to respond to people and communities that are disproportionally impacted by COVID-19

The Somerset West Community Health Centre is working with Ottawa Public Health data to target the most affected communities and neighbourhoods.

Mayor Jim Watson said on Wednesday that officials are looking to set up a COVID-19 testing centre in the downtown core.

Cloutier said the centre is establishing a downtown fixed site testing clinic for appointments.