Visible minorities struggle with bills amid pandemic: StatsCan

By James Langton | July 6, 2020 | Last updated on July 6, 2020
2 min read
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The economic fallout from the Covid-19 outbreak is having a more significant impact on visible minorities in Canada, according to new research from Statistics Canada.

The national statistical agency published a study, which finds that while both white and minority workers report similar rates of job loss or reduction in working hours due to the pandemic — minorities have faced greater struggles in paying their bills.

Citing the results of an online crowdsourced survey that was carried out between May 26 and June 8, StatsCan reported that for survey respondents who were employed prior to the shutdown, for almost all ethnic groups, around one-third experienced job loss or reduced work hours.

Yet, the report also found that visible minority participants were more likely than white participants to say that the pandemic had affected their ability to meet their financial obligations and needs, such as rent or mortgage payments, utilities and groceries.

“Most visible minority groups had higher shares reporting a strong or moderate negative financial impact of Covid-19,” StatsCan said, noting that negative impacts were particularly high among groups with the highest poverty rates prior to the pandemic.

Indeed, the study noted that minority groups often face more precarious employment situations, and higher poverty rates, so “their ability to adjust to income losses due to work interruptions is likely more limited.”

According to the paper, these higher poverty rates are partly tied to the prevalence of visible minorities among recent immigrants to Canada.

“Recent immigrants were much more likely to be in poverty than long-term immigrants and the Canadian born,” the study said.

After adjusting for various demographic factors, such as immigration status, education and employment status, the gap in the poverty rate for minorities shrinks “but remains large,” it said.

The study also found that about 19% of the survey participants have applied for federal income support programs, such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and Employment Insurance (EI). The study noted that virtually all of the applicants (95%) have received support.

“Receiving federal income support was associated with a higher level of trust in governments and health authorities to make good decisions about when and how to reopen workplaces and public spaces, while reporting a strong or moderate financial impact of Covid-19 was associated with a lower level of trust,” the study noted.

Despite these factors, all groups reported a similar level of trust in government and health authorities, the study found.

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James Langton

James is a senior reporter for and its sister publication, Investment Executive. He has been reporting on regulation, securities law, industry news and more since 1994.