With the arrival of COVID-19, Toronto’s African, Caribbean, and Black (“ACB”) residents, families, and communities will need to identify new ways to remain resilient in the midst of this outbreak. While we know that this process has all of us concerned it is a particular concern for communities that have complex and at times challenging histories with health systems. As ACB communities experiencing multiple levels of systemic anti-Black racism, it is critical that we as a community open and support discussions about how ACB residents will be specifically impacted by the current public health emergency.  

In terms of our health, this is a small sample of what we know: 

  • Black households are 3.56 times more likely to experience food insecurity; 
  • Between 2001 and 2012, diabetes doubled among Black women from 6% to 12%;
  • Black Torontonians are more likely to live with experiencing pain or discomfort, have high blood pressure, and be overweight/obese than white Torontonians.

These health challenges are accompanied by related research that demonstrate the ways in which Toronto’s ACB communities routinely fair worse in the health/medical care systems. Health care approaches that are not culturally responsive and specific, coupled with systemic racism, and lack of accessibility to health services routinely place Black populations at disadvantage when engaging health care systems of care. All of these factors are exacerbated by the fact that Toronto’s Black populations have the highest percentage of working poverty, among both the immigrant population and those born in Canada, and that despite being only 7.5% of the City’s population, Black Torontonians make up 13% of residents of low-income neighbourhoods. A public health emergency of the magnitude of COVID-19 places disproportionate levels of stress on ACB resilience and mutual support networks. 

This Bulletin is not meant to be a conclusive document, but a contribution to a conversation that needs to take place. We aim to join our vast array of ACB-focused organizations thinking about and working to address how ACB peoples can remain safe and resilient during the COVID-19 outbreak. This Bulletin is designed to provide some holistic insight on how we can think about and approach our safety and well-being efforts. What we offer here is not precise science, but rather lessons shared from key partners and staff with a broad range of community development, public health, policy, and advocacy experience. 

Finally, our focus is on enhancing our communities’ ability to respond, recover, and regroup in the face of this COVID-19 outbreak. Any aim to secure and promote the resilience of ACB peoples must be holistic and recognize that resilience has been an essential part of our culture and way of existing.

We aim to update this Bulletin as the outbreak continues to unfold. We will continue to invite ACB actors and institutions across the City to contribute and share in co-creating this Bulletin.


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