Apartments are seen lit up in downtown Vancouver as people are encouraged to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says provincewide data show the most important area B.C. must tackle in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is health inequity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel

Apartments are seen lit up in downtown Vancouver as people are encouraged to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says provincewide data show the most important area B.C. must tackle in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is health inequity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel

Age, income among top factors affecting well-being during pandemic, B.C. survey shows

Among respondents earning $20,000 a year or less, more than 41 per cent reported concern about food insecurity

A survey on people’s experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic in British Columbia shows the most important areas that must be addressed relate to health and social inequities, says the deputy provincial health officer.

Emergencies tend to worsen social disparities that affect health and access to health care, a challenge that’s confirmed by the data released Friday from a survey of nearly 400,000 people, said Dr. Reka Gustafson.

“The results around young adults and people who are already vulnerable due to economic disadvantages, feeling the pinch even more than others, is not surprising, but I think it’s an important thing to highlight,” she said during a news conference.

The survey conducted in May found age, income and whether there were children at home were significant factors affecting people’s well-being, while the results show disparities based on ethnicity, gender and other demographics as well.

More than half of women surveyed reported worsening mental health compared with 40.3 per cent of men.

People between the ages of 18 and 29 were more likely to report job losses, with nearly 27per cent saying they had lost work due to COVID-19. Their access to in-person post-secondary education and social interactions was also curtailed, said Gustafson.

Over 54 per cent of survey respondents aged 18 to 29 reported worsening mental health, followed by 52.7 per cent of people aged 20 to 39, and 50.3 per cent of people aged 40 to 49.

The survey results show people who earned less money prior to the pandemic were also more likely to report job losses, deteriorating mental health and difficulty making ends meet.

Among respondents earning $20,000 a year or less, more than 41 per cent reported concern about food insecurity, followed by 24.5 per cent of those earning between $20,000 and $59,000.

More than half of people in households with young children reported worsening mental health compared with 44.5 per cent of those in households without kids. Among people living with children who reported worsening mental health, 70 per cent reported increased child stress.

The data also shows people who identified as West Asian and Arab were most likely to report worsening mental health at 51.3 per cent, followed by Japanese and Korean respondents at 48.6 per cent.

Black and Hispanic people were most likely to experience job losses as a result of the pandemic at 21.3 and 22.9 per cent, respectively, followed by West Asian or Arab and Southeast Asian or Filipino respondents.

The BC Centre for Disease Control said the “Your Story, Our Future” survey reached about one in 10 adults in the province, making it the largest-ever population health survey in Canada. A new tool on the centre’s website breaks the data down by region and community.

Asked about the value of releasing data collected in May at a time when COVID-19 cases are surging, Gustafson said those facing the highest risks and experiencing the greatest burdens throughout the pandemic have not changed.

“I think the truths and the messages that this survey highlights remain both relevant and timely,” she said.

Jat Sandhu, a consultant with the centre for disease control, said the survey results have already been used by a provincial working group that monitors the health and social consequences of the pandemic and public health rules aimed at keeping people safe.

The data was also used in an earlier report from the centre on the impacts of school closures on kids and families, said Gustafson, noting that it was used as well in the province’s plans for reopening schools in the fall.

Brenna Owen, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s first case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

Snow covers Main Street in downtown Penticton Monday morning, Jan. 25, 2021.
First snowfall of 2021

Chances of light snow all week

Crystal Johns used her lunch break to film her audition video for the Vancouver Canucks.
VIDEO: Former Vees anthem singer wants to bring her voice to the Canucks

Crystal Johns made her audition tape during a lunch break

The Village of Keremeos is preparing to open up the village to in-province travellers as the province enters Phase 3 of its reopening plan. (Brennan Phillips - Keremeos Review)
Electric vehicle use continues to rise in Keremeos

August saw 147 vehicles for the peak of the year

Four staff members at the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen were self-isolating on March 19. The regional district is also considering whether to continue keeping its doors open to the public. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Feedback wanted on plan to make West Bench age-friendly

Some 43 per cent of West Bench residents are over the age of 55

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

Auldin Maxwell stacks the 693rd block on the top of record-breaking Jenga tower on Nov. 29. (Submitted)
Salmon Arm boy rests world-record attempt on single Jenga brick

Auldin Maxwell, 12, is now officially a Guinness world record holder.

Metis Nation of B.C. President Clara Morin Dal Col poses in this undated handout photo. The Metis Nation of B.C. says Dal Col has been suspended from her role as president. The Metis Nation of B.C. says Dal Col has been suspended from her role as president. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Metis Nation of B.C. *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Metis Nation of B.C. suspends president, citing ‘breach’ of policies, procedures

Vice-president Lissa Smith is stepping in to fill the position on an acting basis

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks in the in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Payette shouldn’t get same benefits as other ex-governors general: O’Toole

Former governors general are entitled to a pension and also get a regular income paid to them for the rest of their lives

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News file)
Two Kelowna flights flagged for COVID-19 onboard

The flights were on Jan. 14 and 18

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

A Dodge Ram pickup similar to this one was involved in a hit-and-run in Lake Country on Saturday, Jan. 16. (Crime Stoppers photo)
Stolen truck involved in Okanagan hit-and-run

Incident happened on Highway 97 in Lake Country just before 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

Kelowna Fire Department. (FILE)
Early morning downtown Kelowna dumpster fire deemed suspicious

RCMP and the Kelowna Fire Department will conduct investigations into the cause of the blaze

Most Read