There’s no question that COVID-19 has impacted everyone on a grand scale, but there are certain segments of the population that have experienced more COVID-related consequences than others. The long-awaited end to 2020 has finally come, with 2021 being a more hopeful year, but with the rise of COVID-19 cases, the cost of testing, and a new stay-at-home order, people are more frustrated than ever.
Local governments have been criticized for their handling of the pandemic as well as the impact it has had on the more vulnerable members of the community. While slowing the spread of COVID-19 has been a priority, many are having difficulty coping with this new normal and have not been getting the assistance needed to get by. The following marginalized groups are suffering from a disproportionate impact due to COVID-19.
People of Colour
It’s no surprise that people of colour have been impacted differently than their white counterparts, stemming from an unbalanced justice system and decades of discriminatory behaviour. Last year COVID-related articles shared headlines with protests aimed at the mistreatment of the Black community by the hands of police brutality. According to a report by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, COVID-related fines totaling approximately $13 million have been issued in Quebec, Ontario and Nova Scotia, affecting Black, Indigenous, and other marginalized groups, such as the LGBT community. The top five provinces with the highest amount of tickets for COVID-related incidents are reported to be Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Those living on the street already have inadequate access to healthcare and are often overlooked for a number of reasons. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, more pressure has been added to those in marginalized communities, including those without permanent housing. Many who live on the streets have been fined for lack of COVID-compliant behaviour (such as not wearing a mask), which can only add to further alienating the at-risk community that is in need of social support. Anyone who’s experiencing homelessness can’t effectively follow any stay-at-home rules and is unlikely to have resources for food delivery or COVID testing.
The pandemic hasn’t been the easiest for anyone in a low-income bracket and in many ways, only worsened their situation. While the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) tried to help low-income individuals get by financially, it was only a quick and temporary fix or supplement. The money wasn’t available to everyone and some even took advantage, despite not needing the emergency funds. There’s also the added burden of dealing with the cost of COVID tests, which used to be free. Many have dealt with the difficult choice of going to work sick or not making any money if they need to quarantine, leading to missed weeks of work and pay. Not everyone can afford to have food delivered, miss work, avoid using buses, or have the resources to afford multiple COVID tests for vacations that can’t happen.
When it comes to COVID-related issues, mental health includes any obvious problem. Since the pandemic started, there has been an increase in anxiety, depression, and isolation, due to many who are living on their own or feeling abandoned and alone. Meeting up virtually or not at all has been a hard adjustment for many, leading some to thoughts of suicide. Working from home (or not at all due to COVID-related job loss) has only added to increased stress levels and anxiety over how to pay bills. The recent holiday rules and strict guidelines kept people from seeing loved ones, as a way to decrease infection. While some couples are feeling the strain of seeing each other too often, there are many that wish they had a companion of their own. Virtual therapy has also been an option but many are booked and costly, and that issue arises only once an individual gets through the stigma.
Dontei Wynter | Staff Writer