Poverty and COVID in Toronto

COVID-19 Affects Low-Income Neighbourhoods Disproportionately

Navaneeth Mohan

Yesterday, September 8th 2020, the province announced that it will be pausing all planned re-openings for four week. The crucial decision came after health experts witnessed many days of steadily rising cases. Just two days prior to this announcement, Health Minister Theresa Tam had urged caution when COVID-19 case counts rose by 25% in the prior week. 

These new cases have come at a time when schools, public spaces, and local businesses were beginning to re-open. Though the province has continued to keep these services open, evidence suggests that the pandemic has already done irreparable damage to the economically disadvantaged disproportionately.


After compiling data from Toronto’s open data portal, we see that the highest number of cases were recorded in the poorest neighbourhoods. Perhaps the most disturbing observation was concerning the drastically different pandemic experience between North St.James Town and Rosedale Moore-Park. Despite being geographically adjacent to each other, North St.James Town who’s inhabitant make an average income of below $30,000 had 6 times the number of cases of Rosedale Moore-Park, a neighbourhood which reported an average income above $130,000 in 2015. This is despite the fact that North St.James Town covers a much smaller area than Rosedale Moore-Park. 

If the province is forced to shut down due to a second wave of the coronavirus, it will affect the poor disproportionately. Many public services such as libraries are crucial for poor people to get access to the internet, books, and career advice/workshops. Before such a decision is made, the province must implement a plan on how to tackle the issue of COVID-19 disproportionately affecting the economically disadvantaged.