Road to recovery: Cancer in the COVID-19 era

How COVID-19 has affected populations experiencing inequities

health equityCOVID-19 does not affect everyone equally. Differences in access to resources, power and privilege have all contributed to health inequities for certain populations across Canada that have been further exacerbated by the pandemic.

Populations that have historically experienced health and social inequities are more likely to contract COVID-19.1 For example, data from Ontario showed that individuals with Latinx, South Asian, Middle Eastern, South-East Asian, Black and South Asian ethnicities are more likely than those of European ethnicity to contract COVID-19 and experience severe outcomes (e.g., hospitalizations, ICU admissions and death). The concentration of COVID-19 cases is also higher in lower income neighbourhoods and in areas with a higher proportion of visible minorities, recent immigrants, high-density housing and essential workers.2

In general, people with lower incomes and who belong to racialized communities are over-represented in the essential workforce — working in grocery stores, public transit, manufacturing and the like. They are also more likely to live with multiple generations in the same household and are less likely to have access to health care or protective equipment. As such, these people may not have the privilege and choice to follow public health measures, which leads to an increased risk of contracting COVID-19.3

  1. Government of Canada. From risk to resilience: An equity approach to COVID-19 – The Chief Public Health Officer of Canada’s report on the state of public health in Canada 2020. 2020. Available from:
  2. Xia Y, Ma H, Moloney G, Velasquez Garcia HA, Sirski M, Janjua NZ, et al. Geographic concentration of SARS-CoV-2 cases by social determinants of health in metropolitan areas in Canada: a cross-sectional study. CMAJ. 2022; 194(6):e195-e204.
  3. Nana-Sinkam P, Kraschnewski J, Sacco R, Chavez J, Fouad M, Gal T, et al. Health disparities and equity in the era of COVID-19. J Clin Transl Sci. 2021; 5(1):e99.