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Overall, Canadians’ mental health declines during pandemic
Toronto, June 2, 2021 – The pandemic has affected the health of all Canadians but it has exacted a particularly heavy toll on the mental health of women and seniors according to results of Environics Institute surveys conducted before and after the pandemic.
The findings on the physical and mental well-being of respondents have wider implications for the workplace and economy as a whole, the authors note, since health concerns figure prominently in work disruptions and affect overall productivity, skills development and are linked to lower satisfaction with work and employers.
COVID-19 has introduced health risks, loss of income and jobs, restrictions on activities, education, skills development and gatherings, and prolonged uncertainty. Helping employees improve their physical and mental health can bring benefits not only to those workers but also to businesses, those they care for and the economy more generally. Plans for a recovery must include measures to address the poorer health challenges of those whom the pandemic has affected the most.
A new report based on the survey results called Mind and body: Impact of the pandemic on physical and mental health was released in collaboration with the Future Skills Centre and the Diversity Institute. Read the complete report here.
The pandemic has affected us all but has had a much more negative impact on the mental and physical health of specific groups, including women. This affects the workforce and society overall, and we must address the inequities faced by disadvantaged groups as we emerge from the pandemic. Otherwise, we risk widening the gap, with disproportionate consequences for women, youth, racialized and Indigenous peoples. It will be crucial to confront these issues with policies, strategies and skills training that ensure a more prosperous future for everyone.
Pedro Barata, executive director of the Future Skills Centre
I think all of us are aware of the rise of anti-Asian racism and while this research does not provide an explanation we need to dig in deeper. Similarly, the decline in perceptions of mental health among Chinese Canadians is shocking. These findings show, in less than two years, a 50 per cent decline in those who perceive their mental health as excellent or very good. The proportion of Chinese Canadians who now perceive their mental health as excellent or very good is now half that of Black Canadians and much lower than all other major racial identity groups.
Wendy Cukier, director of Ryerson’s Diversity Institute
The report is based on the Survey on Employment and Skills, conducted by the Environics Institute for Survey Research, in partnership with the Future Skills Centre and Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute. The authors examined results of this survey of 5,351 Canadians, conducted between Nov. 24 and Dec. 22, 2020, and a previous one conducted in April 2019 — a year-and-a-half before the pandemic. The earlier research occurred between April 17 and May 6, 2019, with a sample of 3,111 Canadians. Researchers aimed to gain a more in-depth understanding of the pandemic’s implications on physical and mental health among Canadians.
About the Future Skills Centre The Future Skills Centre (FSC) is a forward-thinking centre for research and collaboration dedicated to preparing Canadians for employment success. We believe Canadians should feel confident about the skills they have to succeed in a changing workforce. As a pan-Canadian community, we are collaborating to rigorously identify, test, measure, and share innovative approaches to assessing and developing the skills Canadians need to thrive in the days and years ahead. The Future Skills Centre was founded by a consortium whose members are Ryerson University, Blueprint, and The Conference Board of Canada, and is funded by the Government of Canada’s Future Skills Program.
About the Environics Institute The Environics Institute for Survey Research (www.environicsinstitute.org) was established by Michael Adams in 2006 to promote relevant and original public opinion and social research on important issues of public policy and social change.
About Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute
The Diversity Institute conducts and coordinates multi-disciplinary, multi-stakeholder research to create practical strategies to advance skills and employment opportunities for women, racialized people, newcomers, Indigenous people, persons living with disabilities and others. The Diversity Institute is home to unique programs such as the Advanced Digital and Professional Training Program (ADaPT) as well as the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub aimed at building an inclusive innovation ecosystem.
Eglantine RonfardCommunications ManagerFuture Skills Centrecommunications@fsc-ccf.ca647-262-3706
The author of the report is available for media interviews in English and French.