Toronto has officially declared anti-Black racism a public health crisis in the city.
The move comes a week after a coalition of Black health leaders, backed by NDP leader Andrea Horwarth, called on the Ford government to formally recognize anti-Black racism as a public health crisis.
The motion, introduced by Joe Cressy, was unanimously approved by the Toronto Board of Health on Monday, June 8.
It also asked for Board of Health members to affirm its commitment to support policies and programs that address inequities faced by Black communities; a request for the Medical Officer of Health to re-prioritize resources to address anti-Black racism in health inequity; and a request for the Civic Appointments Committee to promote diversity when filling positions on city boards and committees, including the Board of Health.
Cressy said he hoped the recent protests would provoke a change in policies that contribute to systemic racism and not just changes to behaviour.
https://acaottawa.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Toronto-Declares-Anti-Black-Racism-Public-Health-Crisis.jpg960720adminhttps://acaottawa.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/logo.pngadmin2020-06-09 13:09:142021-04-24 16:58:59Toronto Declares Anti-Black Racism A Public Health Crisis
The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) released a disturbing report regarding five high-risk long-term care homes in Ontario: Orchard Villa in Pickering, Altamont Care Community in Scarborough, Eatonville in Etobicoke, Hawthorne Place in North York, and Holland Christian Homes Grace Manor in Brampton.
Some of the key findings include:
Residents being left in bed in soiled diapers
Unsafe nursing medication administration errors
Improper use of PPE by staff and doctors
COVID-19 patients being housed with residents who have not tested positive
Residents crying for help with no response from staff for 30 mins to over 2 hours
Residents not bathed for several weeks
Residents forcefully fed
COVID-19 positive patients allowed to wander around freely
Premier Doug Ford said it was the “most heart-wrenching report I’ve ever read in my entire life.” One of the homes – Orchard Villa – has been named in a $40-million class action lawsuit on behalf of all the residents and their family members. Many Canadians are also calling for the resignation of Merrilee Fullerton, the Minister of Long-Term Care.
The Ontario government has already launched an active investigation into the five privately-owned homes and has started the process of taking over management at four of the facilities. The fifth, not included in the report, is Camilla Care Community in Mississauga. An independent commission into Ontario’s LTC system is scheduled to begin this July.
https://acaottawa.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Altamont-Care-Community.jpg6081080adminhttps://acaottawa.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/logo.pngadmin2020-05-26 19:00:492021-04-24 17:01:28Ontario Government Launches Investigation, Takes Over 5 Long-Term Care Homes
After months of pressure from Black community advocates and health experts, Ontario announced it will soon begin collecting race-based and socioeconomic data on COVID-19. Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Williams said the province is consulting with health equity experts to determine what information to collect. So far, no further details have been provided. However, Ontario health official Dr. Barbara Yaffe revealed they are in the process of updating the questionnaire distributed to patients by public health units.
Just last month, community leaders issued a joint statement on COVID-19’s devastating impact on Black communities in Ontario, and urged public health officials to collect race-based data to better inform the government’s pandemic response. Ottawa’s first Black councillor Rawlson King also authored a letter of support, noting the importance of using the data to design a more equitable healthcare system, as well as improve resource allocations for Black communities.
Citing long-standing structural and systemic inequities rooted in anti-Black racism, they outlined concerns the pandemic has amplified existing health and socioeconomic disparities, including poorer health outcomes; poverty; low income; unaffordable housing; and incarceration, which research has shown affects the Black population at disproportionately higher rates.
Black workers, particularly Black women, are overrepresented among essential workers in frontline jobs like PSWs or RPNs; and in service jobs that require close contact with the public. Many of them are providing essential services – such as grocery store clerks, cleaners, and warehouse workers – yet unable to access social and financial relief for their families.
Black families are more likely to live in multi-generational households and may find it difficult to practice physical distancing or self-isolation. Black Canadians are also more likely to have pre-existing health conditions (i.e. diabetes, hypertension, etc.), and lack access to healthcare, putting them at increased risk for severe illness or death from COVID-19.
https://acaottawa.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/ontario-covid-19-race-based-data-e1590768675753.jpg5791030adminhttps://acaottawa.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/logo.pngadmin2020-05-21 18:00:512021-04-24 17:01:17Ontario To Start Collecting Race-Based Data From COVID-19 Patients
In the United States, data from 29 states shows that the coronavirus has killed Black Americans at a disproportionate rate, according to the Atlantic.
Earlier in April, an analysis by the Associated Press found that 42 per cent of COVID-19-related deaths in the U.S. are Black people, double their share of the population. Health disparities, a higher chance of working front-line jobs, less access to health care and being more likely to live in crowded, denser neighbourhoods are all factors contributing to a higher death rate, according to the AP.
In Canada, race-based data about which groups have been impacted by COVID-19 hasn’t been collected. Toronto Public Health announced on April 22 that it would begin to collect this information so it can address health inequities.
U.S. minorities face greater risk of death from COVID-19
U.S. minorities face greater risk of death from COVID-19
Even without that data, the health of Canada’s Black communities has long been a concern and has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis, according to a statement from Black leaders in health care across Ontario published by the Alliance for Healthier Communities on April 2.
In Ontario specifically, research shows Black people face barriers to employment and often rely on gig economy jobs, which are more precarious. Black women are more likely to be working front-line jobs as personal support workers (PSWs) or registered practical nurses, for example, according to the same statement.
A study by Ryerson University in 2009 — the most recent study available — found that 42 per cent of PSWs identified as a visible minority, close to double their share of Canada’s population at the time.
This week, the death of 51-year-old Arlene Reid, a Black woman who provided home care in Peel Region outside Toronto, sparked comments from the union representing community health-care workers across Ontario, claiming PSWs do not receive proper protection.
Why health inequalities exist in Canada
Black Canadians historically have worse health outcomes due to a myriad of factors that all stem from anti-Black racism — including the types of jobs to which they have access, where they live, income levels and lack of available resources, said Arjumand Siddiqi, Canada Research Chair in population health equity.
“What we know about the relationship between race and health suggests that it’s almost impossible to imagine that these disparities aren’t happening,” said Siddiqi, who’s also an associate professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto.
For instance, Black women are 43 per cent more likely to die of breast cancer than white women, according to the Black Health Alliance, a national health advocacy organization. Black women are consistently underscreened for breast and cervical cancer, Global News reported last year.
Those who face various forms of systematic oppression and a lack of resources as a result almost always suffer the worst health, Siddiqi said.
Lack of access to safer jobs during the coronavirus pandemic — meaning workers can stay at home — is also a concern for Black communities, as they are currently more likely to be front-line workers, she says.
“Autonomy and income from those jobs also provides us with the resources to eat better and to live in more comfortable homes,” she said. “This is why these kinds of fundamental things about your resources, and your status, start to affect every mechanism to every disease.”
COVID-19 pandemic has ‘highlighted disparities’
Safia Ahmed, executive director of the Rexdale Community Health Centre west of Toronto, says she sees a clear health disparity in the communities her organization serves.
“What COVID-19 has done is that it’s highlighted those disparities,” she said.
Ahmed says her organization provides health promotion services to residents in the community of Rexdale and addresses social determinants of health that may prevent them from accessing care.
Many of their clients are either new immigrants or Black Canadians and have either lost their jobs due to COVID-19 or are working on the front lines, she says.
“People in these communities are experiencing food security issues, unemployment issues, and some are struggling to pay rent,” she said. “There are all these other social factors impacting one’s health … not having access to medication, your outcome when you contract disease is worse.”
The announcement that Toronto Public Health will start collecting race-based data for COVID-19 has been encouraging, and she hopes this data will be used to inform decisions and tackle health disparities in communities like the ones she serves, she says.
But beyond Toronto, the provinces and the federal government need to commit to keeping this kind of data as well, otherwise, it’s difficult to glean a full picture of how minority communities are being impacted, she says.
The need for race-based data
The lack of data available, along with the absence of a national conversation on which groups are the most impacted by COVID-19, continues to put minority groups in danger, said Kathy Hogarth, an associate professor of social work at the University of Waterloo.
“When our society is built on inequality, we already have those that are way outside that social safety net,” said Hogarth. “And it makes some bodies disposable.”
“Without data, it’s all speculation, and as long as it remains in speculation, we can dismiss it,” she says. “What we need is a very rigorous way of collecting our data that looks at inequalities. I guarantee you there are inequalities; we are not all impacted in the same way.”
As Canada goes through this pandemic, it’s important that we think about how we want to collect data so we can better prepare in the future and work to protect marginalized communities, she says.
“Though we haven’t put the resources into collecting that kind of data, will we do it now? I wish that we would because I think it’s a detriment that we don’t.”
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.
For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.
https://acaottawa.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/covid-19.jpg183275adminhttps://acaottawa.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/logo.pngadmin2020-05-17 23:24:172023-03-10 04:08:57Canada’s lack of race-based COVID-19 data hurting Black Canadians
Poverty makes people sick. Mental health issues are on the increase in our community, however, stigma and lack of resources will not allow us to seek help, most of the time. African Caribbean and the Black Canadians are 4 times at risk of getting diabetes, cataract and many other illnesses. One in seven people living with HIV in Canada is from the ACB community though we only constitute 3% of the population. Research indicates we suffer from Healthy Immigrant Effect which means our health which is higher than average Canadian starts deteriorating 5 years after arrival in Canada due to several factors including racism and discrimination.
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