Filipinos, among Bipoc Manitobans, experience the most disproportionate burden due to COVID-19, report shows

In a report released by the Province of Manitoba last March 1, 2021 on COVID-19 Infections in Manitoba based on REI (Race, Ethnicity and Indigeneity), 51 per cent of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Manitoba from May 1 to December 31, self-identify as BIPOC. This is 1.5 fold higher than expected, as 35 per cent of people in Manitoba belong to a BIPOC group (Statistics Canada Census, 2016).

Filipinos, according to the report, experience the most disproportionate burden due to COVID-19. They make up seven per cent of the population but 12 per cent of COVID cases with more women affected than men.

Report also included results of COVID-19 cases based on occupations. It showed that COVID-19 cases are over-represented in some occupations such as food manufacturing, service industry, transportation and health care work.

Manitoba’s chief public health officer, Dr Brent Roussin said that stigma is a challenge in releasing race-base data on COVID -19 but these are data that is important to gather and share and he stressed that systematic factors, not race, are what make individuals more susceptible.

“We know people in BIPOC communities are more likely to live in low-income neighbourhoods, live in overcrowded … multigenerational households,” said Dr. Brent Roussin.

Roussin also added that BIPOC are also more likely to have low-wage occupations and be employed in higher-risk occupations such as food manufacturing, service industry, transportation and accommodations, food service and retail.

Meanhwile, in a CBC report by Peggy Lam, Filipino community members commented on the report. Kris Ontong of Barangay Canada vodcast commented on the importance of enforcement. He said that the province should ensure that protocols are followed and enough personal protective equipment is provided at workplaces with Filipino workers.

Dan Buenventura, president of the Filipino Nurses Association of Manitoba, said that having public health information translated into Filipino or other languages will help address the disproportionate numbers.

In a stement released from Health and Senior Care Minister Heather Stefanson, she said:

“We have learned that in the fight against COVID-19, we need to have the right data to ensure we are able to take the steps needed to protect all Manitobans . We will continue to work with our health-care partners to ensure the personal health information remains private and protected , while also allowing our public health officials to use an evidence-based approach to ensuring every Manitoban has access to the health care they deserve.”