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COVID-19 Tip Sheet # 3

Updated: Jul 21, 2020

Making Connections Between Racism and Racial Disparities in Health: Disparities in the healthcare system have long been documented but COVID-19 has shown us how deep the effects of these disparities are.

As COVID-19 has spread across the globe, it has exposed systemic weaknesses and vulnerabilities that have long been overlooked. From racial bias to inequalities in access to healthcare, it’s becoming more clear that these conversations need to happen… NOW!

Both the economic and health impacts of the pandemic have disproportionately affected certain populations more than others especially people with disabilities, Indigenous peoples, Black people, refugees and immigrants, children, people in need of housing and/or facing food insecurity, people needing medical treatment and women and children fleeing violence (Canadian Human Rights Commission, 2020).

Furthermore, ableism accompanies other forms of discrimination such as anti-black racism to create an intersectional set of experiences and oppressions that we must not only be aware of but work together to challenge.

This week, we’d like to shed light on some of the racial disparities and create ongoing conversations in our communities about the importance of supporting one another during these trying times.

Tips on Staying Safe and Informed

Tip 1: Have open conversations about race, racism and inequality

Children are far more perceptive than we often realize. Children notice differences early on and can discriminate based on them. Let your child know that it’s normal to recognize differences in the way people look and that seeing the difference is not the problem. It’s discriminating based on people’s differences that are the problem.

To help explain these complex issues to young children, check out these videos:

Watch with your child:

Read with your child:

Tip 2: When you don’t know, search for answers together

Our children may ask us difficult questions about race that even we don’t know the answers to and that’s okay. Take every question as an opportunity to learn together. It’s not about getting to the right answer the fastest, it takes time to understand race, racism and inequality which is why it’s important to regularly revisit these topics together.


Tip 3: Stay connected to others

With all that we see going on in both the news and in our communities, it’s important to make sure we’re checking in and talking with people outside our homes as well. The more we let out how we’re feeling, the better we’ll feel together. Both parents and children need an outlet to voice our worries and pain. Keep reading to learn more about how to stay in the know and stay connected!

Did You Know?

Even though race-based data isn’t being collected provincially or federally in Canada on COVID-19 infections, public health officials in Ontario have reported higher rates of infection, hospitalization and death in the province’s most ethnically and culturally diverse neighbourhoods (Public Health Ontario, 2020).

What's Next?

  • Stay informed. The City of Toronto and Region of Peel announced that they will start collecting race-based data on COVID infections so it can better address these disparities. We hope to see other municipalities following this example, while also making sure not to further stigmatize or harm specific communities. While these disparities are a reality, it doesn’t have to be this way.

  • Go virtual. There are online COVID-19 support groups in different cities across Canada. Find one near you by searching “COVID-19 Support Group in _____(your city)”.

  • Stick to trusted sources. For reliable information on COVID-19, please visit:

Stay in the know about what SMILE is offering during the pandemic by joining our mailing list and following us on social media (@smilecanada). We know that there is always room to do more and at SMILE we believe in making sure everyone has equal access to programs.

Need Assistance?

Contact SMILE. We are here for you.

Send us an email at and we will try our best to get you the assistance needed.

By Naima Ismail

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