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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 Pandemic 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.

Indigenous Health and Wellness

Health Care Services

Community Support Systems and the Economy 

Community Support Systems and the Economy

Population Health and Wellness

Mental Health and Substance Use

Population Health and Wellness
Community Support Systems and the Economy

The purpose of this project is to identify and monitor the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and 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 the COVID-19 pandemic. 


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. Working Group members also supported key strategic linkages to other ministries and organizations to seek and incorporate expertise on report topics.

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 distinct perspectives, experiences, and recommendations of First Nations and Métis Peoples in BC. The Working Group recognizes and acknowledges the lack of Inuit engagement in this work at this time and is collaborating with the Deputy Provincial Health Officer – Indigenous Health on how to include Inuit voices and experiences in this project.

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 (First Nation, Métis, and Inuit) identity. 

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, we knew 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 us 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
As the original Peoples of what is now known as Canada, First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Peoples have pre-existing rights (commonly referred to as Indigenous or Aboriginal rights) that are recognized and affirmed by Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Peoples are distinct Indigenous groups in Canada that each have their own customs, practices, and traditions.

The Project Team and Working Group are committed to upholding Indigenous (First Nations, Métis, and Inuit) self-determination and to reconciliation. Reciprocal accountability, wisdom, partnership, responsibility, respect, and action-orientation are the founding principles of the relationship with Indigenous (First Nations, Métis, and Inuit) rightsholders and organizations, including FNHA and MNBC. This project recognizes past and present colonialism, as well as racism and discrimination in the health care system and throughout our society. The principles that guide our approach to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit data include being wellness-focused and strengths-based, looking across the life-course, taking a population health approach, and adherence to Indigenous data governance principles. Formal and informal Indigenous (First Nations, Métis, and Inuit) data governance standards are being adhered to and upheld throughout the entire planning, data analysis, and report writing process. The reports will honour and speak to the strength and resilience demonstrated by Indigenous (First Nations, Métis, and Inuit) leadership, communities, families, and individuals in BC during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Project Team is collaborating with FNHA and MNBC to highlight distinct First Nations and Métis people’s experiences, knowledge, voices, and recommendations. Additional information can be found in the Indigenous Health and Wellness section. 

The Project Team recognizes and acknowledges the lack of Inuit engagement in this work at this time and is collaborating with the Deputy Provincial Health Officer – Indigenous Health on how to include Inuit voices and experiences in this project.

The Project Team identified an initial list of areas of society likely to be impacted by COVID-19 and related response measures. The Working Group validated and expanded on the list. This resulted in a list of almost 60 potential report topics.

The project team and Working Group created a framework for prioritizing report topics based on the urgency and the severity of anticipated or likely consequences in each area. This Priority Setting Framework  has been used to define the order of the development of reports on societal consequences.

SOURCE: Societal Consequences of COVID-19 ( )
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