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

Emma Nunn from Alberni Valley Rescue Squad waits at the summit of Mount Arrowsmith for the rest of the AVRS rope rescue team on Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. (PHOTO COURTESY DAVE POULSEN, AVRS)
UPDATE: Injured hikers among three rescued in the dark from Mount Arrowsmith

‘It was a very bad, very precarious spot to be able to locate them’

Kim Burden, executive director of the Parksville and District and Qualicum Beach Chambers of Commerce. (PQB News photo)
PQBeat: Chamber of Commerce executive director Kim Burden looks ahead

Podcast: Talk includes 2021 business plans in Parksville, Qualicum Beach, events and more

The Village Way and Highway 19A roundabout is the Town of Qualicum Beach priority for a grant application. (Google Map)
Qualicum Beach council favours roundabout over turf field project

Mayor believes road project has better chance of landing grant

Curling season is over at the Parksville Curling Club and Qualicum Beach Curling Club. (PQB News file photo)
COVID-19: Parksville and Qualicum Beach curling clubs forced to end season

Restrictions impact financial sustainability of both operations

(PQB News file photo)
COVID-19: No public attendance or participation for Jan. 18 Parksville council meeting

Citizens can still offer feedback via email, telephone or written submissions

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Dezi, a Delta police dog, retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Canada released proposed regulations Jan. 2 for the fisheries minister to maintain Canada’s major fish stocks at sustainable levels and recover those at risk. (File photo)
New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

Three B.C. salmon stocks first in line for priority attention under proposed regulations

Trees destroyed a Shoreacres home during a wind storm Jan. 13, 2021. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay woman flees just before tree crushes house

Pamala DeRosa is thankful to be alive

Most Read