MONTREAL -- A new study by the Association for Canadian Studies (ACS) shows that people identifying as visible minorities in Canada are most likely to know someone diagnosed with COVID-19.

“Perceptions about the impact of the virus are affected by the extent to which we know someone with the virus,” wrote ACS President Jack Jedwab. “Knowing the ‘someone else’ may for some reinforce the idea that it is happening to someone else and not you.” 

Thirty-one per cent of visible minorities said they know someone that had been diagnosed with COVID-19 compared to 23.6 per cent of respondents who identified as Caucasians. 


Across the country, the percentage of Canadians who reported to personally know someone diagnosed with the virus increased sixfold within two months. 

On March 23, four per cent of Canadians participating in the Leger poll confirmed they know someone diagnosed with COVID-19, whereas the number spiked to 24 per cent by May 19.

Respondents born outside of Canada and immigrants who have been established in the country for 21 years or more were the least likely groups to know someone who has been diagnosed with the virus. 

Only 16.4 per cent of immigrants who have been in Canada for 21 years or more and 24.1 per cent of respondents born outside of Canada said they know someone diagnosed with COVID-19. On the other hand, participants who have been established in Canada between 11 and 20 years were the most likely to answer that they know someone with a diagnosis (37.2 per cent).


With Montreal being the epicentre of the pandemic in Canada, respondents from the city were unsurprisingly the most to answer that they know someone diagnosed with COVID-19 (43 per cent). 

“Montrealers are far and away one of the highest in North America in terms of diagnoses to report knowing someone,” Jedwab told CTV News. “A lot of this has to do with people working on the front lines. Frontline workers are people who have disproportionately reported to have had the virus, and this is not only common in Montreal. You see it in the United States as well.”

In the U.S., the study found that 48.8 percent of Hispanics and 37.3 per cent of African-Americans  respondents said they knew someone diagnosed with COVID-19 compared to 28.3 Caucasians. 

Participants in the poll were 1,513 Canadians and 1,001 Americans aged 18 or older who were randomly recruited. 

The surveys took place from May 15 to May 17, 2020.