The Bridge Engagement Centre received a grant from Canadian Institutes of Health Research / Instituts de recherche en santé du Canada (CIHR) for our study called “Emerging COVID-19 Research Gaps & Priorities (July 2021) / Nouveaux besoins prioritaires en recherche sur…
The Bridge Engagement Centre received a grant from Canadian Institutes of Health Research / Instituts de recherche en santé du Canada (CIHR) for our study called “Emerging COVID-19 Research Gaps & Priorities (July 2021) / Nouveaux besoins prioritaires en recherche sur la COVID-19”.
Emerging COVID-19 will be a part of our COVID IMPACT study. It was clear that populations that were severely affected by COVID were the most vulnerable ones. Actions taken by the government such as introducing CERB and other social assistance programs neglected individuals working in the informal economy. Our preliminary data from COVID Impact demonstrated that, though many people in these populations lost jobs and income, a very few received any COVID-19 specific government support.
The aim of this project is to determine the eligibility of Canada’s low-income, homeless, at-risk for homelessness, and/or racialized populations, including Indigenous communities (hereafter vulnerable populations) for social assistance (SA) programs.
The objectives are:
To develop SA program’s eligibility criteria for vulnerable populations, based on 1) physical health; 2) quality of life (QoL); 3) mental health; and 4) the socioeconomic lived experiences of vulnerable populations.
To address the gap in current income data sources (e.g., Canadian Income Survey and Labour Force Survey) prominently used by welfare program policymakers by utilizing real-time data from vulnerable populations from the COVID Impact project conducted at the Bridge Engagement Center (The Bridge), a community-based research center in Ottawa, Canada.
To develop pandemic ready welfare program eligibility model for Canada’s most vulnerable populations using a comprehensive, data-driven approach, leaving no one behind.
Disease outbreaks expose the fissures in society and COVID-19 is no exception. Populations at increased risk for complications include the immunocompromised, people with pre-existing conditions, and the elderly (1). Tobacco smoking negatively impacts the immune system..
Disease outbreaks expose the fissures in society and COVID-19 is no exception. Populations at increased risk for complications include the immunocompromised, people with pre-existing conditions, and the elderly (1). Tobacco smoking negatively impacts the immune system and increases the risk for a wide range of chronic diseases (1). People who smoke are more likely to be living with mental illness, have a problematic substance use disorder, and experience homelessness (2). All of which are not mutually exclusive and can increase the risk for both chronic disease and susceptibility to COVID-19 complications and death. This is in addition to the increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 among the poor, who are more likely to smoke, and less likely to have housing, paid sick leave, employment protections, and access to COVID-19 government benefit systems (2,3). Moreover, in past pandemics like the H1N1 pandemic, multiple epidemiologic studies reported greater levels of hospitalization in Indigenous communities and highly deprived neighborhoods in Canada. The studies also documented similar occurrences among people who lived on low incomes, those in poorer neighborhoods, and racialized populations in the United States (4). Pre-existing conditions and access to health care did not account for the all of the observed inequalities in H1N1 hospitalization rates in Canada and the United States; which underscores the importance of upstream factors such as socio-economic disadvantage in outbreak prevention and management (4).
Independent of the increased risk of disease and exposure in populations with smoking related health inequities, the relationship between smoking and COVID-19 adverse disease prognosis is assumed. Vardavas and Nikitara (2020) conducted a systematic review of studies that investigated the association between smoking and COVID-19. They found that smokers were more likely than their non-smoker counterparts to experience severe symptoms (RR=1.4, 95% CI: 0.98–2.00), require admission to ICU, require mechanical ventilation, and die from COVID-19 related complications (RR=2.4, 95% CI: 1.43–4.04) (5).
The battle against tobacco is far from over. Since the 1964 United States Surgeon General Report on Smoking and Health, causally linking smoking to lung cancer, significant gains have been made in reducing the rates of tobacco use in the West. However, tobacco smoking continues to rise in vulnerable and marginalized populations, including but not limited to people living in poverty, people living with mental illness, racialized populations, Indigenous populations, and the 2SLGBTQ+ community (6). This is in large part due to a marked class shift in tobacco smoking in the 20th century, fueled by the marketing of tobacco products to disadvantaged populations experiencing high levels of poverty, racism, marginalization, and historical and ongoing trauma (7). Smoking is a health equity and social justice issue with smokers dying 13 years sooner than non-smokers (6).
The COVID-19 pandemic illuminates existing health inequities in society. Smoking related health disparities lead in number of preventable cases of morbidity and premature mortality, as evidenced by a 28-year longitudinal study which found smoking to be a greater source of health inequity than an individual’s social position (8). In the aftermath of the pandemic, it is imperative we take stock of the differential impact of the virus on vulnerable populations, and the importance of health disparity reduction as a means to potentially curtail the severity of future disease outbreaks.
Zhou F, Yu T, Du R, Fan G, Liu Y, Liu Z, et al. Clinical course and risk factors for mortality of adult inpatients with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China: a retrospective cohort study. Lancet [Internet]. 2020;395(10229):1054–62. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30566-3
Pakhale S, Kaur T, Charron C, Florence K, Rose T, Jama S, et al. Management and Point-of-Care for Tobacco Dependence (PROMPT): A feasibility mixed methods community-based participatory action research project in Ottawa, Canada. BMJ Open. 2018;
Raub A, Chung P, Batra P, Earle A, Bose B, Jou J, et al. Paid leave for personal illness: A detailed look at approaches across OECD countries. 2018; Available from: https://www.worldpolicycenter.org/sites/default/files/WORLD Report – Personal Medical Leave OECD Country Approaches.pdf
Rowel R, Sheikhattari P, Barber TM, Evans-Holland M. Introduction of a guide to enhance risk communication among low-income and minority populations: A grassroots community engagement approach. Health Promot Pract. 2012;13(1):124–32.
Vardavas C, Nikitara K. COVID-19 and smoking: A systematic review of the evidence. Tob Induc Dis. 2020;18(March):1–4.
Cole HM, Fiore MC. The war against tobacco: 50 Years and counting. JAMA – J Am Med Assoc. 2014;311(2):131–2.
Pakhalé S, Folan P, Neptune E, Sachs D. Retail Tobacco Sale in the Community. Should Pharmacies Sell Tobacco Products? American Thoracic Society; 2015.
Gruer L, Hart CL, Gordon DS, Watt GCM. Effect of tobacco smoking on survival of men and women by social position: a 28 year cohort study. Bmj. 2009;338(feb17 2):b480–b480.
Food inequity is one of the issues we would like to focus on. According to PROOF (1) in 2017-2018 1 in 8 Canadian households have been considered to be “food insecure”, which concludes the number of 4.4 million people. During COVID those numbers climbed. Food and…
Food inequity is one of the issues we would like to focus on. According to PROOF (1) in 2017-2018 1 in 8 Canadian households have been considered to be “food insecure”, which concludes the number of 4.4 million people. During COVID those numbers climbed. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations indicated that prevalence of undernourishment rose from 8.4 in 2019 to 9.9% during COVID pandemic.
Considering local farms could be a significant part in fighting food insecurity by employing food rescue programs, Bridge Engagement Centre has its garden in Just Food Community Farm in Ottawa. Today we harvested many eggplants, peppers, kale, cucumbers. Taking care of our garden not only will allow us to help participants of our studies who are marginalized, experiencing homelessness but together but also it plays a big role in bringing people together.
Tarasuk V, Mitchell A. (2020) Household food insecurity in Canada, 2017-18. Toronto: Research to identify policy options to reduce food insecurity (PROOF). [Free full report]