All Canadian jurisdictions should routinely collect data on racial and Indigenous identity to help address inequities in health care, and the best way to do that is during the health card application or renewal process, a group of experts says.
Dr. Andrew Pinto, the lead author of the commentary published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, said Black and Indigenous patients have less access to care and worse outcomes but allowing them to voluntarily provide identity data could help track racism in the health-care system. He said it would also help monitor any progress toward addressing stereotypes that lead to poorer care for some people.
“It creates a foundation to say, ‘We need to narrow these gaps and develop tailored programs and services,’ ” said Pinto, founder of the non-profit Upstream Lab based at the MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.
“In Canada, we just lack that data in many, many ways.”
Many racialized communities, which have higher rates of some chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer, have called for race-based data to gain insights into contributing factors such as poverty.