Councillor wants Ottawa Public Health to collect race-based data on COVID-19 cases
OTTAWA -- An Ottawa Councillor wants Ottawa Public Health to begin collecting race-based data on all COVID-19 cases in Ottawa.
Councillor Rawlson King says that information can be used to assist the future planning and resource allocation for the health care system.
In a letter to Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Sarah Funnell, King writes “COVID-19 is an unprecedented public health crisis which requires measurement to determine its impact on racialized communities.”
“The global pandemic has brought a new set of unprecedented circumstances and challenges to these communities that have already been impacted by discriminatory and harmful economic conditions.”
King adds that to address the issues, it’s essential that Ottawa Public Health “introduce collection of race and socio-demographic data for use in health planning.”
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches told reporters last week that Ottawa Public Health will release data soon showing the Ottawa neighbourhoods where cases of COVID-19 are located. The City of Toronto is starting to gather race-based data on COVID-19 cases in the city.
In his letter, Councillor King says “both local community advocates and Black health experts have noted that the use of disaggregated data is necessary to ensure transparency and accountability in health planning.”
King says during discussions with community advocates over the weekend, there were calls for public health to create and adopt a “comprehensive strategy for the collection of sociodemographic and race-based disaggregated data.”
The Councillor for Rideau-Rockcliffe adds the COVID-19 public health crisis "demonstrates weaknesses in our social institutions, and the social, economic and racial disparities that impact the most vulnerable."
“Because social factors, which include race and economic status are directly associated with health outcomes, it is essential that data be leveraged to quantify and address inequity, in order to ultimately improve health outcomes for African, Caribbean Black communities in Ottawa.”