Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on communities made vulnerable by social and economic conditions and the subsequent policy response in Canada

Andrew D. Pinto, Temerty Faculty of Medicine; Sharon Straus, Temerty Faculty of Medicine; Notisha Massaquoi, University of Toronto Scarborough; Fahad Razak, Temerty Faculty of Medicine; Benita Hosseini, Temerty Faculty of Medicine

Reports quickly emerged in spring 2020 that COVID-19 was disproportionately impacting communities made vulnerable by social and economic policies. In the early phase of the pandemic, we conducted a rapid review of the international literature on the social determinants of COVID-19 infection, published between December 1, 2019 – June 25, 2020. We found strong associations between race or ethnicity, socioeconomic deprivation, occupation and other social determinants and COVID-19 incidence and hospitalizations. In response to this and other evidence, members of our study team also developed robust guidelines for Canadian policymakers on how to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on these communities. Since the review and guidelines were published, a large number of additional reports and studies have been published on how the pandemic impacted racialized, low-income and non-healthcare workers who could not shelter at home. However, no study has yet created a detailed picture of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on these communities in Canada. And no research has yet been conducted on whether Canadian jurisdictions implemented policies to support equitable recover. The products of this research will help create a foundation for future research on interventions to improve pandemic preparedness in a way that engages communities made vulnerable by social and economic policies.