Black people and other people of colour make up 83% of reported COVID-19 cases in Toronto

Black people and other people of colour make up 83% of reported COVID-19 cases in Toronto

Black people and other people of colour make up 83 per cent of reported COVID-19 cases in Toronto, city data shows. 

Dr. Eileen de Villa, along with other officials including Toronto Mayor John Tory, presented new findings and data trends on Thursday afternoon that show racialized and lower income communities in the city are disproportionately affected by the novel coronavirus.

  • To read the complete set of city data, click here.

“Unfortunately [COVID-19] has had a greater impact on those in our community who face greater health inequities,” de Villa said. 

De Villa said the data shows that Black people make up 21 per cent of reported cases in the city, while making up only nine per cent of the overall population.

Similarly, Arab, Middle Eastern and West Asian people represent 11 per cent of the city’s COVID-19 cases, while only making up 4 per cent of the total population, de Villa said. 

The data also shows that East Asian and white people are under represented compared to the size of those populations, de Villa said.

The graph shows reported COVID-19 cases among ethno-racial groups compared to the share of people living in Toronto. Black people and other people of colour make up 83 per cent of reported cases while only making up half of the city’s population. (City of Toronto)

The data also shows that 71 per cent of those hospitalized with COVID-19 were people of colour.

De Villa said 52 per cent of Toronto’s population identifies as belonging to a racialized group. 

Lower income, larger households also affected

Lower-income households and households with more people were also disproportionately affected by COVID-19, the data shows.

Fifty-one per cent of reported cases in Toronto were from people living in low-income households, though only 30 per cent of the city’s population is considered low income.

The graph shows reported COVID-19 cases by household income compared to the share of people living in Toronto by income group. Fifty-one per cent of reported cases were people living in low-income households, though only 30 per cent of the city’s population is considered low income. (City of Toronto)

People living in households of five or more people make up 27 per cent of cases, while making up only 20 per cent of the population.

The city’s health agency says it started collecting case data on reported ethno-racial identity, household income and household size “to understand if Toronto residents have been inequitably affected by COVID-19.”

The city started collecting data on May 20, three months after Toronto had its first COVID-19 case. The findings include data up to July 16.

Approximately 27 per cent of people with confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 reported within that timeframe did not have socio-demographic data collected due to a number of reasons. 

The data does not include long-term care or retirement home residents or Indigenous people, de Villa said.

Meeting the need

De Villa said the health agency is working to address the needs of communities that are disproportionately affected by COVID-19. 

In the short term, de Villa said,that would include things like targeted testing, enhanced communications and increased access to social supports, like voluntary isolation sites for people who cannot properly quarantine. 

In the long-term, she said, the city needs to look at affordable housing, access to employment and educational opportunities, adding that “we need to address systemic racism.”

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