Founded in 1983 - United for Diversity and Racial Equality


Montreal, April 30, 2020 — With the disproportionately high number of COVID-19 cases located in many highly multiracial areas of Montreal, CRARR is calling on federal and Quebec public health authorities to collect data on the race, language and household income of individuals infected, in order to better evaluate their needs and develop adequate services for those most affected by the current pandemic.

In calling for data based on these factors, CRARR is joining many groups across Canada that have made similar demands, and Ontario municipalities such as Toronto and Peel that have begun to collect race-base data. In Montreal, health care unions and community groups have begun to point to the possible disproportionately adverse impact of the coronavirus on multiracial and economically disadvantaged areas of the city.

“We are concerned about the high rate of infection in these areas, but existing data only focus on age and gender. There are no indicators based on race, language and income status to allow for more accurate measurements of COVID-19 infection and death in a city as diverse as Montreal,” CRARR Executive Director Fo Niemi said.

“Data in the U.S. and the U.K. have shown that communities of color such as African and Hispanic Americans in the U.S. and Blacks and Asians in the U.K., are being disproportionately affected by COVID-19 due to social and economic disparities, including poverty, poor housing, and inadequate health care. These systemic factors are also present in Montreal; more detailed data will also help develop effective policies and programs to address significant needs,” Niemi added.

CRARR is specifically concerned with the difficult job conditions of health care workers such as health care workers (PABs) in seniors’ residences and hospitals, who are overwhelmingly racialized (Black, Asian, Latino and Arab) and immigrant women. Having worked with these women on issues of systemic race and gender discrimination for over 10 years, CRARR believes that their work conditions should be among the top public health priorities.

In calling for data that take into account race, language and income level, CRARR is drawing on the parallel of group-based data collection under employment equity (EE) laws and racial profiling. Under Quebec’s mandatory EE law, public and para-public employers, such as hospitals and universities, must set up EE programs for Indigenous peoples, visible minorities, ethnic minorities, women, and people with disabilities. These programs rely on data based on race, gender and disability to measure underrepresentation.

CRARR also calls for stringent guidelines on data collection in order to avoid breach of patient confidentiality and misuse of data, and for measures to combat any discrimination based on race, citizenship status, income status and disability intersecting with gender that can be linked to COVID-19, as has been manifested in the scapegoating and racist attacks against Pacific Asian citizens.

It also calls for increased resources for areas affected by racial, social and economic inequalities.

CRARR’s call is supported by numerous social science experts, community organizations and elected officials (see List).

List of Support COVID-19 Data - Race.pdf66.05 KB
COVID-19 Data 28.04.20.pdf64.79 KB