The Health Status of Black Canadians: Do Aggregated Racial and Ethnic Variables Hide Health Disparities?


This paper examines the importance of collecting and reporting data on race and ethnicity in public health and biomedical research in Canada. Literature and available statistics related to social determinants of health were reviewed and analyzed to illustrate that minority populations in Canada, especially Blacks, are likely to experience poorer health outcomes. Statistics Canada in its commitment to multiculturalism uses broad categories such as visible minorities and racialised groups as surrogates for race and ethnicity. These categories, when used in health literature may conceal underlying inequities in health between population groups. Blacks and minority groups in Canada have higher rates of unemployment, lower rates of educational attainment, and lower socioeconomic status. Whenever Canadian data based on race and ethnic categories are reported, disparities are observed. The lack of disaggregated data may hide health disparities.