A Distinction-Based Study on Equity in COVID‑19 Testing for Manitoba First Nations, Metis and Inuit

Nickel, Nathan C | $317,917

Manitoba University of Manitoba 2020 CIHR Operating Grant

Some groups of Canadians are likely to be harder hit by the COVID‑19 pandemic than others. First Nations, Metis and Inuit (FN/M/I) Canadians are one example of these. These groups have high rates of chronic illnesses (like heart disease and lung disease) that put them at high risk for poor COVID‑19 outcomes. Many FN/M/I people experience poverty and live in over-crowded houses, making it hard to keep physically distant from others. As well, health and social services in FN/M/I communities are often underfunded. This means they may not be able to respond quickly to a health crisis if one occurs. To help prevent this type of crisis, this project will provide data on who is being tested for COVID-19, using the province of Manitoba as a sample for the rest of Canada. Testing is one of the first important steps to keeping the spread of the virus down. We will compare rates of testing among FN/M/I people in Manitoba (looking at First Nations, Metis and Inuit groups separately) to rates of testing in the rest of Manitoba. This information can then be used to direct and scale-up the public health response to COVID‑19 where it is most needed. Using administrative data on Manitobans’ health from the Repository at the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy (MCHP), we will look at where testing is occurring geographically, what the testing rates are and whether FN/M/I people are being tested at a different rate than other Manitobans, and how many tests are likely going to be needed to keep the spread of COVID‑19 under control. We will also develop methods to automate these queries in the data, so we can monitor the trends in real time throughout the pandemic. The findings will be shared with FN/M/I health leadership and with the Manitoba Government’s Department of Health. With access to the latest data, these decision makers can then respond quickly to issues that arise.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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