By: Kian Diab
Covid-19 has been hitting some communities harder than others. Despite being a lower percentage of the population, certain visible minorities are facing repercussions of the virus at a higher rate due to several socioeconomic factors. To break this down, we have to look from the standpoint of a marginalized group in society that does not always get the same opportunities or privileges as those in the majority. Firstly, many people of colour -specifically indigenous people- are generally turned away from the health sector because of systemic discrimination (like the recent death of Joyce Echaquan). There is an overwhelming number of people of colour facing poor treatment, harassment, or even death when in contact with health care workers. This is damaging because it could prevent a COVID-19 patient from seeking the help they need and potentially getting more sick or transmitting the virus.
Another factor is financial status. A disproportionate number of visible minorities and people of colour are found on the lower end of the financial scale. This could mean, their jobs are more labour intensive forcing them to work in closer proximity to their colleagues. Neighbourhoods and local businesses cannot afford all the needed health measures or PPE, or that they cannot afford to take sick leave or choose not to work, because they are reliant on a pay check. Furthermore, transgender and genderqueer people are statistically showing an alarming amount of homelessness in their community, resulting in shelters housing many minorities. The crowdedness of shelters and lack of safety assurance leads to more transmission of the virus and no easy way to stop it.
Many immigrant families also fall into group housing of temporary shelters. Minorities are typically coming into more contact with people outside their household and do not always have the means of traveling to get tested or the knowledge on how to do it. The solution can come in many ways. The government needs to be pushed to increase temporary housing and equitable distribution of PPE and tests. There should be more community education about the virus and assurance that help will be provided if needed. Change will come when there is a shift in attention from our community. The virus will spread faster if we cannot contain it and currently it is spreading fast within communities of people who are receiving the least aid. Food banks and financial support donations could provide temporary aid and relief to someone fearful that they will be next to catch COVID-19 if they go to work. We are stronger together and can stop the virus if we address the issues that are always right in front of us.