Research Report Round-up: Vulnerabilities related to COVID-19 among LGBTQ2+ Canadians

What you need to know

Measures put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 bring a unique set of challenges to Canadians who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, Two-Spirit or who report another non-binary gender or minority sexual identity (LGBTQ2+). This report looks at differences in social and economic vulnerabilities of LGBTQ2+ Canadians compared to non-LGBTQ2+ Canadians and how this could affect how they manage during the COVID-19 pandemic. The report shows that this group was at greater risk of job loss, lower income, and more financial difficulties before the pandemic, which could affect their ability to manage during a work interruption. This group was also at higher risk of being homeless or of being insecurely housed, which could make it difficult for them to self-isolate or quarantine and to follow public health recommendations.

Title and link to report: Vulnerabilities related to COVID-19 among LGBTQ2+ Canadians / Vulnérabilités liées à la COVID-19 chez les Canadiens et les Canadiennes LGBTQ2+

Author(s):  Elena Prokopenko and Christina Kevins for Statistics Canada

Year and location: December 2020, Ottawa

How this report can be used: This report will be of use to policymakers and system planners in the development of future public health measures to reduce transmission of the coronavirus that may impact people who are LGBTQ2+ people.

Populations addressed: Canadians who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, Two-Spirit or report another non-binary gender or minority sexual identity

Contact person/source:  STATCAN [dot] infostats-infostats [dot] STATCAN [at] canada [dot] ca

What this report is about

Measures put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 bring a unique set of challenges to LGBTQ2+ Canadians (Canadians who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, Two-Spirit or who report another non-binary gender or minority sexual identity). For example, LGBTQ2+ youth may be forced to isolate at home with homophobic, biphobic or transphobic family members because other housing options may not be available or affordable.

This report looks at differences in social and economic vulnerabilities of LGBTQ2+ Canadians compared to non-LGBTQ2+ Canadians and how this could place them at greater risk to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The comparison is based on the 2018 Survey of Safety in Public and Private Spaces. Results are based on responses from more than 45,000 people in Canada, and the sample represents people who are 15 years of age and older.

Distribution by gender and age

LGBTQ2+ Canadians were generally younger than non-LGBTQ2+ Canadians and were significantly less likely to identify as male. They were also at higher risk of losing their job. For example:

  • LGBTQ2+ people made up 4% of the Canadian population overall, but youth aged 15 to 24 made up 30% of the LGBTQ2+ population compared to 14% of the non-LGBTQ2+ population.
  • People 65 years or older made up 7% of LGBTQ2+ Canadians, but 21% of non-LGBTQ2+ Canadians.
  • In terms of gender, 44% of LGBTQ2+ respondents identified as male and 52% as female, while 4% identified as gender diverse. Among non-LGBTQ2+ respondents, there was an almost 50-50 split (49.5% and 50.5%) between those who identified as male and those who identified as female.

In Canada, youth aged 15 to 24 have experienced the largest and most persistent declines in employment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Given that the LGBTQ2S+ population has a high proportion of youth, it is likely that this group may be among those most affected by job loss during the pandemic.

Income and financial insecurity

LGBTQ2+ Canadians made up a larger portion of low-income income categories. In particular, significantly more of them made less than $20,000 a year compared with non-LGBTQ2+ Canadians (41% and 26%, respectively). There was also a large difference in average personal incomes between the two groups ($39,000 compared to $54,000).

Differences in income between the two groups may be due, in part, to differences in sociodemographic characteristics that affect personal income. For example, almost twice as many LGBTQ2+ people were in school, CEGEP, college or university (24% compared to 13%).

In addition, significantly fewer LGBTQ2+ people said they would be able to handle a sudden, unexpected expense (11% compared to 7%).

Risk of losing access to safe and secure housing

More than twice as many LGBTQ2+ people had experienced some type of homelessness or housing insecurity in their lifetime (27% compared to 13% for non-LGBTQ+ respondents). In addition:

  • they were three times more likely to have lived in a shelter, on the street, or in an abandoned building
  • they were more than twice as likely to have lived with family or friends because they had no other place to stay
  • among those who did not report these two situations, LGBTQ2+ people were twice as likely to have temporarily lived somewhere other than home because they were leaving an abusive or violent situation
  • significantly more LGBTQ2+ youth aged 15 to 24 were living outside their parents’ homes (35% compared to 24% for non-LGBTQ2+ youth).