University of Manitoba researchers have demonstrated via a study that Canada’s native population, known as First Nation or Indigenous people are twice as likely as others to face financial hardship due to the various shutdowns and associated economic damages in connection with the pandemic. Fully one third of Indigenous Canadians that responded to a recent survey shared they lost their jobs, higher than other minority groups (persons of color) who faced more economic hardship than the White population of Canada. The health of the Native population, at risk with only a third of the population reporting excellent health as compared to 43% for other minority groups and 46% for Whites in America’s northern neighbor. The study was already underway when the University of Manitoba received $671,332 in funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research in June 2020. Regardless of race or ethnicity, the pandemic has slammed populations around the world and the risk now of both health and economic hardship represents the possibility of greater crisis. Poverty and the social determinants of health correlate health with economics.
Study lead Kiera Ladner reported in a recent article that while the first big waves of COVID-19 outbreaks occurred in reservations to the south in America, they followed shortly thereafter in Canadian reservations. Professor Ladner reports that this study augments the medical studies, focusing on social, mental health and economic outcomes associated with the pandemic and Indigenous people as well as new immigrants to Canada who are typically people of color.
The study, called “COVID-19’s differential impact on the mental and emotional health of Indigenous Peoples and Newcomers: A socioeconomic analysis of Canada, US and Mexico” looks at the socioeconomic impact of COVID-19 in North America, hence spanning not only Canada but also the United States and Mexico. Importantly, this study seeks to collect and aggregate data necessary to support government response to the pandemic, both emphasizing economic and health related actions moving forward.
Call to Action: Political leaders must understand that the economic hardship associated with COVID-19 leads to unfolding and unexpected economic crises represent health crises—poverty correlates with bad health at least in the developing nations. The social determinants of health suggest a fundamentally transformational approach to “health care” from one that emphasizes fixing problems to one that prevents problems while rebuilding or in some cases actually establishing economic sustainability.