Ontario mulls collection of race-based COVID-19 data; some argue it's essential

CKTB news | data

Ontario's government says the importance of understanding the role race might play in the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted it to look at regulatory changes to make collection of such data province-wide.

The province had granted some health units permission to begin collecting race-based data voluntarily and some have begun doing that -- but critics argue it's not enough.

A spokeswoman for Health Minister Christine Elliott says the province was working with public health and privacy experts to collect such data but noted it would require changing regulations.

Hayley Chazan says the ministry is considering proposing to make income level and race for COVID-19 cases reportable to local public health units.

She says they recognize that the collection of race-based data is important in order to guide decision-making on how to protect vulnerable groups who may be at a higher risk for COVID-19.

In the U-S, public health officials discovered in April that the potentially lethal SARS-CoV-2 virus was disproportionately affecting black communities.

Advocates say the data is important for decision-making at the provincial and local levels in order to help contain the spread more effectively and to help those hit hardest.