Apartments are seen lit up in downtown Vancouver as people are encouraged to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British Columbia's deputy provincial health officer says provincewide data show the most important area B.C. must tackle in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is health inequity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel

Age, income among top factors affecting health during pandemic in B.C., survey shows

VANCOUVER — British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says a survey on people’s experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic shows the most important areas that must be addressed relate to health inequities.

Dr. Reka Gustafson says emergencies tend to worsen social disparities that affect health and access to health care, which is confirmed by the data released today from a survey of nearly 400,000 people.

She says the survey conducted in May found age, income and whether there were children at home were significant factors affecting people’s health during the pandemic.

The survey results show young people and those earning less money prior to the pandemic were more likely to report job losses and deteriorating mental health, while households with children were also more likely to report worsening mental health and extreme stress.

The BC Centre for Disease Control says the “Your Story, Our Future” survey reached about one in 10 adults in the province, making it the largest-ever population health survey in Canada.

A new tool on the centre’s website breaks the data down by region, community, ethnicity, age and other demographics.

Jat Sandhu, a consultant with the centre, says the survey results have been used by a working group that monitors the health and social consequences of the pandemic and public health rules aimed at fighting COVID-19.