A new study shows that nearly half of Ontario’s COVID-19 cases are made up of immigrants and refugees. The report analyzed testing and infection rates, and the results came back quite high. This demographic accounts for 43.5% of all cases in the province up to June 13, 2020.

“COVID-19 infections have taken a disproportionate toll on immigrants and some racialized populations in several countries, including Canada,” ICES' summary begins. 

Immigrants and refugees have been testing positive for COVID-19 at significantly higher rates (10.4% and 7.6%, respectively) than Canadian-born and long-term residents (2.9%).*

Despite making up almost half of all Ontario cases, immigrants and refugees only make up 25% of the province’s population.

The report states Canada has welcomed on average 275,000 immigrants a year over the last decade as permanent residents, with Ontario receiving almost half of that number.

A recent example of outbreaks within these communities was among migrant farmworkers, namely in the Windsor-Essex area.

"The pandemic has sharpened the focus on structural and societal inequalities that have long existed," the report summary states.

"These inequities put many racialized and immigrant populations at higher risk of both contracting the infection and suffering poor outcomes."

Back in May, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Eileen de Villa said that the City of Toronto had begun collecting personal data on COVID-19 cases and that low-earners and new-immigrants were hit the hardest

"We found that people living in areas that have the highest proportion of low-income earners or areas that have the highest proportion of recent immigrants and high unemployment rates had higher rates of COVID-19 cases," she explained.

ICES suggests more mobile testing and to continue with funding efforts to house those who are unable to quarantine in order to help flatten the curve of infection among the most vulnerable communities.


Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story was accompanied by a headline that did not meet our editorial standards. It has been updated to appropriately describe the story.

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