New report shows the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Manitoba’s BIPOC communities

WINNIPEG — The COVID-19 pandemic is having a disproportionate impact on Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) in Manitoba, according to a new report.

On Monday, the Manitoba government released the report into race, ethnicity and indigeneity of COVID-19 infections, which examines the impact of COVID-19 among those populations. The report found African, Filipino, Latin American, North American Indigenous and South Asian communities in Manitoba have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, similar to other regions.

“It’s important to note that this is not about the people in these communities making bad choices or people not following public health guidance,” said Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer. “We need to look at this data in the context of many factors, such as occupation, income, housing adequacy, to understand how race influences the effects of COVID-19.”

Roussin said Manitoba began asking about ethnicity on May 1, 2020. The report goes to Dec. 31, 2020, and uses population data from Manitoba’s 2016 census.

The report shows North American Indigenous Manitobans had 17 per cent of Manitoba’s positive COVID-19 cases, despite making up 13 per cent of the population. Filipino Manitobans had 12 per cent of the positive cases, despite making up just seven per cent of Manitoba’s population. Members of the African community, which make up two per cent of Manitoba’s population, had six per cent of positive COVID-19 cases.

“This is systemic, and it’s seen in every jurisdiction, resulting in very similar patterns of disproportional effects of COVID-19,” Roussin said.

White Manitobans, which make up 64 per cent of Manitoba’s population, had 48 per cent of the positive COVID-19 cases.

Roussin said people in BIPOC communities are more likely to live in lower-income neighbours, live in overcrowded or multi-generational households, and are more likely to work in higher-risk occupations. The report said 59 per cent of all COVID-19 cases in BIPOC communities report employment in manufacturing. Roussin said the majority of occupations seeing COVID-19 cases were in food manufacturing, the service industry and transportation.

In a statement, Health and Seniors Care Minister Heather Stefanson said the data will aid Manitobans in coming up with plans to protect BIPOC communities during the pandemic.

“We have learned that in the fight against COVID-19, we need to have the right data to ensure we are able to take the steps needed to protect all Manitobans,” Stefanson said. “Our trusted public health officials, like Dr. Brent Roussin and Dr. Marcia Anderson, review this information to determine how it can be used to ensure all Manitobans are protected, regardless of their background.”

The report can be read below.

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