Looking into the past: a public health perspective on COVID-19

Data Collection Capacity

Each province or territory is responsible for collecting clinical and public health information, while the federal government’s role in the public health system is limited. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the inconsistent and delayed data delivery (one of the characteristics of the lack of centralized health service) limited the capacity of the public health agencies to reduce the health inequalities among those most affected or at risk, such as the LGBTQ+ populations, indigenous communities, low socioeconomic status individuals and visible minority ethnical groups.

Diagnostic Testing Capability

While testing guidelines were quickly developed by each province and territory, many still experienced significant delays in diagnosis and testing. This is mainly due to the unprecedented magnitude of the cases, a shortage of testing kits and reagents (likely due to supply chain disruption), a delay in planning for conducting further testing, and limited analytical capacity in each province and territory. This delay led to many provinces and territories redirecting their focus to those who were symptomatically ill, with limited testing provisions for those without symptoms, both of which led to the spreading of the virus. Ultimately, this shift in focus likely underestimated the case load and spread of the virus during each wave in Canada.

Public Health Agency of Canada’s Proposed Health Equity Approach to COVID-19



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Science & Policy Exchange

Science & Policy Exchange


A student-run non-profit that works to foster the student voice in science policy and evidence-informed policy-making in Canada. Based in Montreal.