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Race-based and Indigenous Identity Data to Measure Health Inequalities in Canada

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Race-based and Indigenous identity data is essential for measuring health inequalities (health disparities) and for identifying inequities that stem from racism, bias and discrimination. Health equity data can be used to inform actions and interventions to improve health equity among racialized groups.

To harmonize collection and ensure high-quality data that is comparable across jurisdictions, the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) is releasing pan-Canadian minimum standards for collecting race-based and Indigenous identity data in health systems, along with guidance on their use. These standards can be voluntarily adopted by health systems that are looking to collect data on inequalities in health care access, quality, experience and outcomes.

This work has been ongoing for several years. It has included a detailed review of the literature as well as engagement with researchers, clinicians, organizations that represent racialized and Indigenous communities, and the federal, provincial and territorial governments. An interim standard was released on May 29, 2020, in response to the urgent call to understand the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in racialized communities. On July 24, 2020, CIHI published a discussion document containing proposed standards with relevant context and questions to solicit feedback and engagement. After the release of this document, CIHI received feedback from a wide range of stakeholders and partners to inform the updates to the final standard categories and the guidance for the appropriate collection and use of race-based and Indigenous identity data.

Canada’s health systems need to be able to identify inequities experienced by racialized and Indigenous groups, and to design and implement systemic changes to advance equity in health care.

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