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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has suspended indoor dining at restaurants and pubs until at least April 19 in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. sets new COVID-19 daily record with 1,293 cases Thursday

New order allows workplace closures when infections found

The new 3,500 hectare conservancy in Tahltan territory is located next to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (BC Parks Photo)
New conservancy protects sacred Tahltan land near Mount Edziza Provincial Park

Project is a collaboration between Skeena Resources, conservation groups and the TCG

Mabel Todd, 83, of the Nak’azdli First Nation, leads a group of family members and advocates of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls as they walk along the so-called Highway of Tears in Moricetown, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Province, feds fund full cell service along ‘Highway of Tears’ following years of advocacy

A ‘critical milestone in helping prevent future tragedies’ after at least 10 Indigenous women murdered, missing along the route

Erin O’Toole, Conservative Party of Canada leader, answered questions during a Terrace District Chamber of Commerce event on April 6, 2021. (Screenshot/Terrace District Chamber of Commerce Facebook)
Erin O’Toole discusses Terrace issues during virtual event

Federal Conservative leader answered questions during a Terrace & District Chamber of Commerce event

Easter is on Sunday, April 4, 2021. How much do you know about Easter history and traditions? (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz about Easter and its traditions

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians says that includes attempts to steal Canadian research on COVID-19 and vaccines, and sow misinformation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Intelligence committee warns China, Russia targeting Canadian COVID-19 research

Committee also found that the terrorist threat to Canada has shifted since its last such assessment

Part of the massive mess left behind in a Spallumcheen rental home owned by Wes Burden, whose tenants bolted from the property in the middle of the night. Burden is now facing a hefty cleaning and repair bill as a result. (Photo submitted)
Tenants disappear in the night leaving Okanagan home trashed with junk, feces

Spallumcheen rental rooms filled with junk, human and animal feces; landlord scared to rent again

Parliament Hill is viewed below a Canada flag in Gatineau, Quebec, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. A new poll suggests most Canadians are feeling more grateful for what they have in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased slightly in 2019: report

2019 report shows Canada emitted about one million tonnes more of these gases than the previous year

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to register people ages 40+ for COVID-19 vaccines in April

Appointments are currently being booked for people ages 66 and up

Most Read