New study highlights the serious impacts to Calgarians living in poverty from COVID-19

Structural barriers identified as disproportionately impacting low income and racialized groups expanding gaps in health and social inequities.

6 July 2021

July 6, 2021, Calgary, AB – Today Vibrant Communities Calgary (VCC) and the University of Calgary released a new study reporting on the experiences of Calgarians living in low income as they cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. Understanding the Impact of COVID-19: Addressing Structural Barriers that are Widening Inequities and Exacerbating Vulnerability reports that the majority of the study’s participants reported serious and significant negatives changes in their lives related to loss of employment, loss of income, food insecurity and being many weeks or months behind in paying household bills. 

“We saw troubling stories of deteriorating mental and physical health and despite the introduction of emergency government benefits, many did not have access to these supports. Some were forced to make difficult choices like reducing their medication and meals,” explained Dr. Katrina Milaney, associate professor Cumming School of Medicine, who oversaw the study. 

Structural barriers disproportionately affected the survey participants who were in low income and racialized groups, which is consistent with findings from other cities that show the pandemic is impacting already vulnerable people in multiple and intersecting ways. The report makes eight recommendations grounded in changing policies and systems.  

“Even with financial supports like CERB, it’s clear that many Calgarians have fallen through the cracks," says Meaghon Reid, executive director of VCC. "Hearing the stories from the people involved with the study were heartbreaking and it’s clear that as we begin the process of rebuilding post-pandemic that these voices are heard and drive the systemic change that we all know is possible.”


About Vibrant Communities Calgary 

VCC is a non-profit organization that works collaboratively with stakeholders and partners to engage and serve Calgarians and to advocate for long-term strategies that address the root causes of poverty in Calgary. VCC engages the community using a Collective Impact approach to poverty reduction and is the steward of the Enough for All 2.0 Poverty Reduction Strategy. For more information, visit or follow us on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn and Instagram.  



For more information, please contact: 

Stephanie Rösch  
Communications and Marketing Specialist 
Vibrant Communities Calgary