Canada needs a national strategy for disaggregated race-based data to ensure equitable decision-making in health

By Dina Idriss-Wheeler and Karine Coen-Sanchez of University of Ottawa

The lack of access to and reporting of disaggregated race-based data does not allow for evidence linking race to health outcomes to reveal sub-population health inequities. The current COVID-19 situation has exacerbated health inequities among Indigenous, Black and People of Colour (IBPOC). The problem of the pandemic, along with raised voices from IBPOC advocates as well as the political will, have opened a policy window to a national Federal strategy for standardized, disaggregated health data on race and indigeneity in Canada. Statistics Canada collects but does not report/provide access to race-based micro-data. Although some cities and provinces are collecting race-based data, the variation in collection/reporting (i.e., non-standardized) is non-comparable and inadequate to inform health care decisions and strategies at the national level, beyond the local contexts. Canada needs a national strategy for disaggregated race-based data argues that a comprehensive, representative, standardized national approach to health surveillance is essential for intersectional analysis to identify vulnerable populations.