Staff and leaders at Alliance member centres were very busy in the media in the last week, advocating on behalf of marginalized people and communities for equitable COVID-19 responses, and supports for people who are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
From advocacy people facing systemic barriers and racism during COVID-19 responses, to urging the government to act quickly on housing for people experiencing homelessness, to addressing the intersection of the overdose crisis with COVID-19, Alliance members were raising their voices across Ontario for marginalized communities.
Staff and leaders at Rexdale CHC and Black Creek CHC in northwest Toronto were part of an in-depth story unpacking the missing parts of community level responses to COVID-19, talking about the work they’ve been doing to help people stay safe and get tested, and what’s missing from the provincial COVID-19 strategy for vulnerable people, including mobile testing. The article also goes into detail regarding the lack of primary care access in some parts of the city, and how this has contributed to higher rates of infection and illness among racialized and low-income people living in those areas.
In the Ottawa Citizen, Suzanne Obiorah, director of primary care at Somerset West CHC, discussed how systemic racism and existing health inequities are at the root of what racialized and immigrant communities in Ottawa are experiencing higher rates of COVID-19 and more impacts. “Health inequities are deep-rooted, and they’re a direct consequence of systemic barriers, of systemic racism.”
Parkdale-Queen West CHC executive director Angela Robertson spoke to the media this week about the crucial work that needs to happen to provide housing for people experiencing homelessness ahead of an anticipated second wave of COVID-19. “The pandemic has identified that housing is the most responsive remedy — a medicine for homeless, unsheltered folks who are affected by COVID-19,” Robertson says in the article.
Elsewhere, South Riverdale CHC CEO Jason Altenberg spoke to CBC about the high rates of overdose that have likely resulted from the increased isolation of people who use drugs due to COVID-19 public health measures, also noting that the supply of drugs is more toxic than it was before the pandemic began.
In Thunder Bay, NorWest CHC’s CEO Juanita Lawson and Brad King, supervisor of Path 525, the Consumption and Treatment Services at NorWest, also sounded the alarm in a CBC article, explaining that marginalized communities and staff who support them are dealing with “two intersecting crises and they're affecting our city's and our country's most vulnerable people," with Lawson pointing to staff adapting to work in different ways with their clients as essential, as well as additional support to get harm reduction supplies into the hands of people who need them.