MONTREAL -- A coalition of Montreal-based ethnic and visible minorities is calling on the city and province to begin collecting data on who, exactly, is getting infected with COVID-19.

Across North America, the pandemic has hit visible minorities and vulnerable economic groups the hardest, but race-based data on the virus is not readily available in Quebec.

“Race, ethnicity and immigration status play a part in people's experience with COVID but we don't have this information here in Quebec,” said Jill Hanley, a professor at McGill University's School of Social Work.

National data compiled by Canadian researchers showed wealthier neighbourhoods had fewer cases than low-income ones. City councillor Marvin Rotrand said the time has come to similarly collect data on ethnicity and background. Next week, he and several others plan on introducing a motion to begin that data collection.

“It gives us a portrait of who is most vulnerable, where resources should be allocated,” he said. “It's a vital tool for our healthcare workers.”

Sharon Nelson of the Jamaican Association of Montreal said that data may also make it easier to get information to people vulnerable communities, who can be suspicious of health authorities.

“There are certainly blind spots in the system that health officials and researchers do not know about. It will build trust in the community and let the data speak for itself,” she said. “Without this information, it makes it more difficult to access these services and perhaps overcome some of these obstacles.”