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COVID-19 sparks health concerns for older people, financial fears for youth: StatCan

The agency is calling its voluntary online survey a "crowdsourcing data initiative"

April 24, 2020  The Canadian Press

PHOTO: AdobeStock

OTTAWA — While health concerns are at the forefront for Canada’s older generation during the COVID-19 crisis, younger people are worried about their ability to pay their bills, according to participants in a new survey by Statistics Canada.

The agency is calling its voluntary online survey a “crowdsourcing data initiative.”

It says 200,000 people responded to the first round of questions, which began three weeks ago. Because of the way the data was collected, the findings aren’t necessarily reflective of the Canadian population at large.

“Examining how various population groups are reacting to the pandemic is important, because not all Canadians will experience COVID-19 the same way,” the agency said in a statement.

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The survey found more than 58% of respondents over the age of 75 were very or extremely concerned about their own health, while younger people were far less likely to have the same worries.

Only 28% shared similar concerns in the 25-to-34 age range, and 23% in the 15-to-24 group were concerned.

Those personal concerns for their health may be why the survey showed older people were less likely to have visited the grocery store in the last week, Statistics Canada mused in its statement.

More than 44% of people in the oldest age category reported not visiting the grocery store in the past week, compared to 22% among participants aged 35 to 44.

“While seniors were less likely to go to a grocery store or drugstore, they were more likely to use delivery services to get food or medication,” the statement read.

Of greater concern to youth was their finances.

More than 48% of participants aged between 15 and 24 reported a major or moderate impact on their ability to meet their financial obligations and essential needs, compared to about 34% of the participants overall.

The findings were in line with Statistics Canada’s most recent labour-force survey, which showed young workers have taken the biggest hit in terms of job losses during the crisis.

Some anxieties were shared among nearly all people who responded.

At least 80% of people in all age categories said they were very or extremely anxious about the viral outbreak overloading the health system, and at least 70% of people in all categories said they were worried about vulnerable people’s health.

The survey also found more than 90% of the people who participated said they are following the rules when it comes to staying home, avoiding gatherings, keeping away from others while outside and stepping up their hand-washing.

The majority, 73%, have even managed the herculean task of not touching their faces as often.

Statistics Canada plans to launch other crowdsourced surveys in the coming weeks to provide more information about how Canadians are responding to the crisis.