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Societal Consequences of COVID-19

Measures implemented to slow the spread of COVID-19 and prevent severe outcomes and deaths also affect people’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health and wellness, the health care system, environment, and economy.

Examining the Societal Consequences of the COVID-19 Response is a project to understand how COVID-19 response measures have affected individuals and communities in British Columbia. The work, led by the Office of the Provincial Health Officer (OPHO) and the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), includes:

  1. Identifying and monitoring societal consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. Advising on how to support British Columbians through the recovery and after the pandemic.  

Here you will find a series of reports on the health of the population during the pandemic to share what we have learned so far during this project.

New reports and updates will be added as they become available. The reports describe some examples of actions being taken or planned to address the issues identified in each report. The lists of actions are not comprehensive and readers are encouraged to visit the websites of ministries and organizations working on the report topic to find the latest information.

Mental Health and Substance Use

The purpose of this project is to identify and monitor the beneficial and harmful effects of COVID-19 response measures on society. The findings of this project are being used to understand when and where we need to adjust our pandemic response and to monitor the long-term impacts of COVID-19 response measures. 


Measures introduced in BC to slow the spread of COVID-19 have had substantial effects on individuals and communities. Some of the measures include:

  • Physical distancing
  • Wearing masks
  • Restrictions on in-person social gatherings
  • Avoidance of non-essential travel
  • Shifting to work from home
  • Temporarily suspending in-class learning in K-12 schools and post-secondary schools
  • Temporarily deferring non-urgent surgeries 
  • Restricting or closing certain businesses
  • Limiting visitation in hospital, long-term, and residential care settings

These measures have helped British Columbians keep safe by preventing COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, and death, and ensuring that the health care system continues to be available to those who need urgent and life-saving care. They have also had other effects, including on people’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health and wellness, on the health care system, on the environment, and on our economy. Some of the effects have been beneficial, but many have caused negative disruptions to our individual lives, families, communities, and society.

The reports posted to this website provide brief summaries of the information used to assist with monitoring the health of the population and guide public health leadership’s decision-making during the pandemic. The reports have been themed by:

Explore the themes and related materials from the project with the menu on the right.

This project is co-chaired by the OPHO and the BCCDC and is being carried out by a project team made up of staff from both organizations. To support the work of this project, a Working Group has been assembled, which includes individuals with knowledge and expertise in surveillance, epidemiology, public health, and other domains of health and wellness.

The Working Group has representatives from BC's regional health authorities, Provincial Health Services Authority, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, as well as provincial Indigenous partner organizations, including Métis Nation BC (MNBC), and the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA), to highlight the perspectives, experiences, and recommendations of Indigenous people in BC. 

We are committed to confronting discrimination and racism and pursuing greater personal and societal equity. We are doing this by using a health equity lens, which means we pay attention to how different groups of people in BC have been affected by COVID-19 response measures in different ways. This includes using analysis tools such as Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) and the BC Human Rights Commission’s Grandmother Perspective framework for the collection of disaggregated race-based data, to understand how the COVID-19 response measures are experienced differently by age group, sex/gender, socioeconomic status, population density, immigration status, race, and Indigenous identity. 

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, we know that some British Columbians faced unfair disadvantages due to less access to services, resources, and opportunities due to stigma, discrimination, systemic racism, and historical and present-day colonialism. Applying an equity lens in this project allows the Project Team to assess how groups may be put at greater risk of experiencing poorer health and wellness outcomes due to the COVID-19 response measures.  

Collaboration and Co-operation
Our core values also include collaboration and cooperation. Through a coordinated and iterative approach, the Project Team and Working Group members work collaboratively with key partners in government and across sectors to understand and monitor the societal consequences resulting from the COVID-19 response measures. Members share knowledge, expertise, and advice to support the province and British Columbians in moving forward together.  

Indigenous self-determination and reconciliation are reflected in the development of this project and the production of the Indigenous reports. Reciprocal accountability, wisdom, partnership, responsibility, respect, and action-orientation are the founding principles of the relationship between the Project Team and Indigenous rightsholders and organizations, including FNHA and MNBC. This project prioritizes the need for and value of Indigenous partners sharing the experiences, knowledge, voices, and recommendations of First Nations, Métis, and other Indigenous people in BC. This project also recognizes past and present colonialism, as well as racism and discrimination in the health care system. The principles that guide the Indigenous reports include wellness-focused, strengths-based, life-course, population health approach, and the principles of OCAP® (ownership, control, access, and possession). Indigenous data governance standards are being adhered to and upheld throughout the entire process. The reports will honour and speak to the strength and resilience demonstrated by Indigenous leadership, communities, families, and individuals in BC during the COVID-19 pandemic.

SOURCE: Societal Consequences of COVID-19 ( )
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