Canada’s COVID‑19 Pandemic Response and Impact in Homeless or At-Risk for Homelessness, and Visible Minority Populations in Canada: A Mixed-Method Study
Vulnerable populations are more likely to live with chronic conditions, experience housing and food insecurity,¿precarious employment, and mental health challenges, which are exacerbated during times of crisis. Canadian pandemic responses to COVID‑19 fail to identify the interaction of marginalization and health disparities that are intertwined with the social determinants of health, which if incorporated in emergency planning by public health officials can lead to equitable public health risk messaging strategies for vulnerable populations. Using a mixed-method design, the objective of the study is to build upon a pilot trial and measure the bio-psychosocial and economic impacts of the COVID‑19 response on homeless, at risk of homelessness, and visible minority populations in Ottawa, Canada. Through mobilizing existing community partnerships, a survey will be shared on social media platforms and through relevant social service networks by individuals with lived experience of homelessness and poverty (community peers). The survey will collect data on the physical health, mental health, socioeconomic characteristics, and health and digital literacy skills of vulnerable populations during the COVID‑19 pandemic. A sub-sample will complete telephone-based semi-structured interviews¿that¿will explore in-depth the experiences of vulnerable populations with¿physical distancing, exposure to public health messaging, and COVID-19¿related¿misinformation during the pandemic lockdown. The mixed-method analysis will examine patterns and relationships between the aforementioned factors of interest to inform digital and health literacy gaps, producing equitable pandemic policies in the future. By understanding the susceptibility of vulnerable populations and the unique communication outbreak disease management needs of said populations, the impact will have positive implications around the globe.