Key Findings

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Release date: October 20, 2020

The health impacts of COVID-19 go beyond the effects of the virus

The pandemic has had unprecedented impacts on the quality of life of Canadians, who have reported their lowest levels of life satisfaction since data became available in 2003.

Fewer Canadians reported being in very good or excellent mental health – with young Canadians registering the largest declines.

Excess mortality - the number of deaths in Canada was higher than expected from March to May, reflecting both COVID and non-COVID related deaths, before returning to normal levels in June.

43% of Canadians rated their life satisfaction as 8 or higher on a 10 point scale, compared with 73% of Canadians in 2018.

55% of Canadians reported very good or excellent mental health, compared with 68% of Canadians before the pandemic. Youth experienced the greatest declines – a 20 percentage point reduction from 60% (pre-COVID) to 40% (July 2020).

The economic impacts of COVID-19 have been uneven across population groups

The historic declines in economic activity disproportionately affected many vulnerable Canadians, including women, youth, new immigrants, visible minorities and lower-wage workers.

Visible minorities are overrepresented in sectors hardest hit by the pandemic, including food and accommodation services, contributing to high rates of unemployment.

Results of crowdsourced data indicate that Indigenous people have been harder hit by the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The unemployment rate among young Canadians was 23.1% in August, over twice the rate observed in February.

In August, the unemployment rate ranged from 12.7% to 17.9% for selected visible minority groups, compared with 9.4% among the non-Indigenous, non-visible minority population.

36% of Indigenous participants reported that the pandemic had an impact on their ability to meet financial obligations or essential needs, compared with 25% of non-Indigenous participants.

The impact of COVID-19 on economic activity have been unprecedented and highly uneven across sectors

The impact of COVID-19 on certain sectors, particularly those that provide consumer-facing services and rely more on travel and tourism, has been particularly severe. Lower-wage services have been impacted to a much greater extent than high-wage services. 

The recovery in jobs will depend in large part on the ability of many businesses to adapt to changes in financial and operating conditions, including more uncertain demand for their products and services.

The pandemic is likely to have a transformative impact on existing business models, accelerating trends toward greater teleworking, digitalization and automation.

Airline passenger volumes, measured year-over-year,  remained down 94% in June.

As of July, payroll employment in accommodation and food services industries is about 2/3rds of its pre-COVID level.

As of May 2020, nearly 25% of businesses with rent or mortgage payments had been granted deferrals.

Over 1/5th of businesses  expect at least 10% of their workforce to continue tele-working after the pandemic.

The social impacts have also been uneven –greater impacts on those population groups with pre-existing vulnerabilities

Immigrants and visible minorities are overrepresented among front line workers, putting them at greater risk from COVID-19.

Visible minorities have perceived an increase in harassment, attacks, and stigma since the pandemic began –rates were highest among Chinese, Korean, and Southeast Asian participants.

Social isolation due to COVID has heightened the risk of family violence.

24% of employed Filipino Canadians and 20% of employed Black Canadians work in the health care and social assistance industry, compared with 14% of all workers

Visible minority respondents were 3 times more likely than other participants to report a perceived increase in the frequency of harassment or attacks based on race, ethnicity or skin colour.

54% of responding victim services reported an increase in the number of victims of domestic violence served between mid-March and early July.

Managing the pandemic moving forward - Canadians are willing to take precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19, but differences across groups are apparent

Canadians continue to take necessary precautions to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus despite being less concerned about the health and social impacts of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. 

There is a clear relationship between level of concern and willingness to take precautions – those less concerned are less likely to take some precautions.

Most Canadians are willing to get tested, use an app and get a vaccine, when available, but concerns about safety and risks cited by those not willing to get a vaccine (14%).

Individuals that are less likely to get a vaccine include those with lower levels of education  as well as landed and non-landed immigrants.

90% or more of Canadians said they would take precautions such as hand washing, crowds and wearing masks

64% of Canadians with the lowest level of concern are willing to avoid crowds and larger gatherings compared with 96% among those with the highest level of concern

63% would get tested if they experienced symptoms;

56% would likely use a contact tracing application; and

58% would be very likely to get a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available.

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