Apartments are seen lit up in downtown Vancouver as people are encouraged to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says provincewide data show the most important area B.C. must tackle in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is health inequity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel

Apartments are seen lit up in downtown Vancouver as people are encouraged to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says provincewide data show the most important area B.C. must tackle in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is health inequity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel

Age, income among top factors affecting well-being during pandemic, B.C. survey shows

Among respondents earning $20,000 a year or less, more than 41 per cent reported concern about food insecurity

A survey on people’s experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic in British Columbia shows the most important areas that must be addressed relate to health and social inequities, says the deputy provincial health officer.

Emergencies tend to worsen social disparities that affect health and access to health care, a challenge that’s confirmed by the data released Friday from a survey of nearly 400,000 people, said Dr. Reka Gustafson.

“The results around young adults and people who are already vulnerable due to economic disadvantages, feeling the pinch even more than others, is not surprising, but I think it’s an important thing to highlight,” she said during a news conference.

The survey conducted in May found age, income and whether there were children at home were significant factors affecting people’s well-being, while the results show disparities based on ethnicity, gender and other demographics as well.

More than half of women surveyed reported worsening mental health compared with 40.3 per cent of men.

People between the ages of 18 and 29 were more likely to report job losses, with nearly 27per cent saying they had lost work due to COVID-19. Their access to in-person post-secondary education and social interactions was also curtailed, said Gustafson.

Over 54 per cent of survey respondents aged 18 to 29 reported worsening mental health, followed by 52.7 per cent of people aged 20 to 39, and 50.3 per cent of people aged 40 to 49.

The survey results show people who earned less money prior to the pandemic were also more likely to report job losses, deteriorating mental health and difficulty making ends meet.

Among respondents earning $20,000 a year or less, more than 41 per cent reported concern about food insecurity, followed by 24.5 per cent of those earning between $20,000 and $59,000.

More than half of people in households with young children reported worsening mental health compared with 44.5 per cent of those in households without kids. Among people living with children who reported worsening mental health, 70 per cent reported increased child stress.

The data also shows people who identified as West Asian and Arab were most likely to report worsening mental health at 51.3 per cent, followed by Japanese and Korean respondents at 48.6 per cent.

Black and Hispanic people were most likely to experience job losses as a result of the pandemic at 21.3 and 22.9 per cent, respectively, followed by West Asian or Arab and Southeast Asian or Filipino respondents.

The BC Centre for Disease Control said the “Your Story, Our Future” survey reached about one in 10 adults in the province, making it the largest-ever population health survey in Canada. A new tool on the centre’s website breaks the data down by region and community.

Asked about the value of releasing data collected in May at a time when COVID-19 cases are surging, Gustafson said those facing the highest risks and experiencing the greatest burdens throughout the pandemic have not changed.

“I think the truths and the messages that this survey highlights remain both relevant and timely,” she said.

Jat Sandhu, a consultant with the centre for disease control, said the survey results have already been used by a provincial working group that monitors the health and social consequences of the pandemic and public health rules aimed at keeping people safe.

The data was also used in an earlier report from the centre on the impacts of school closures on kids and families, said Gustafson, noting that it was used as well in the province’s plans for reopening schools in the fall.

Brenna Owen, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Just Posted

Condemned building of the Twin Gables Motel in Crofton is not safe and yet a teen has been climbing around on the roof while others were ripping the siding off the building. (Submitted)
Destructive behaviour by teens wreaking havoc on Crofton

Residents becoming fed up with the constant vandalism and fires

This tractor was stolen from Providence Farm near Duncan between May 6 and 7, 2021. (Submitted)
Tractor stolen from Cowichan’s Providence Farm

John Deere X300 model was swiped between May 6 and 7

The organizers of the annual 39 days of July festival hope to return to live shows in Charles Hoey Park this year, like in this photo taken in 2019, but audiences at the show may be limited to 50 people due to health protocols. (File photo)
39 Days of July hoping for outdoor events in Duncan this summer

Annual music festival will run from June 25 to Aug. 2 this year

Cowichan Valley WildSafeBC coordinator Amanda Crowston teaches a Grade 5/6 class at Ecole Cobble Hill last fall. (Submitted)
The bears are back in town and so is WildSafeBC

The bears are back in town so keep an eye out, reminds… Continue reading

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 rate creeps up again, 600 new cases Wednesday

One more death, 423 people in hospital with virus

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)
UPDATE: B.C. will fund another year of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in schools

John Horgan government working on school meal program

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Surrey RCMP is releasing sketches of a suspect in an “indecent act” at the Coyote Creek Elementary playground on April 30, 2021. Police said the suspect was clean-shaven “during some interactions” and on “other occasions had stubble outlining a goatee and mustache.” (Images: Surrey RCMP handout)
Vancouver mayor-elect Kennedy Stewart addresses supporters in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says there’s no time to redo details of drug decriminalization plan

Kennedy Stewart says a federal election could see the small window of opportunity close on the city’s bid for an exemption from criminal provisions on simple possession of small amounts of drugs

These are just a handful of Vancouver Island’s missing person cases. Clockwise from top left: Lisa Marie Young, Lindsey Nicholls, Micheal Dunahee, Jesokah Adkens, Belinda Cameron and Emma Fillipoff. (File photos courtesy of family members and police departments)
Could Victoria skull fragment bring closure to an Island missing persons mystery?

Skeletal remains found in Greater Victoria have not yet been identified

Premier Mike Horgan received his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. (Facebook/John Horgan)
More than 50% of people eligible in B.C. have received 1st vaccine dose

‘We’ve made extraordinary progress together over the past few weeks,’ says Premier Horgan

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of a Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu on May 8. (Black Press Media file photo)
Indigenous woman shot by police was holding a replica gun, says Ucluelet First Nation

Woman has been identified as a member of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation

Most Read