Data and equity needed to drive post-pandemic recovery in Canada: a Saskatchewan contribution
During the first weeks days of the global pandemic, people in Saskatchewan watched COVID‑19 make its way to the province. In March 2020, residents watched for daily updates on new infections, cases that required hospitalization-and, ultimately death rates-as we sheltered in place under lockdown, experiencing relatively low rates of infection. As of November 2021, during the Delta-driven fourth wave, Saskatchewan is experiencing the highest cases, hospitalizations, and deaths per capita, the health care system pushed beyond capacity. What explains the COVID‑19 trajectory in this region? How will residents remember and recover from this global pandemic and apply its lessons to local circumstances, now and in the future? In particular, how did the pandemic-including policies and practices implemented throughout-impact the province’s most vulnerable and how do we build better systems to cushion them in the future? Co-led by epidemiologist Nazeem Muhajarine and historian of medicine and T1 Canada Research Chair Erika Dyck, this interdisciplinary, bi-university, community-engaged team aims to document, preserve, understand, and communicate the wider impacts of the pandemic on social issues and public health, focusing on four interrelated areas: mental health, substance use, housing precarity, and food insecurity. Through a justice lens, we will examine how the pandemic has affected health disparities in equity-seeking groups and use that knowledge to recommend strategies to ‘build back better,’ in Saskatchewan and nationally. This research has immense potential to compel decision-makers to act on their own evidence and apply lessons from the pandemic in rebuilding our systems, programs and services, and community resiliency. Also, a longer-lasting product will be a digital, public archive sister project established to collect and preserve memories, reflections, insights from Saskatchewan residents during COVID-19.