Limitations of Canadian COVID-19 data reporting to the general public

J Public Health Policy. 2022 Jun;43(2):203-221. doi: 10.1057/s41271-022-00337-x. Epub 2022 Jan 31.


Canadian coronavirus (COVID-19) case statistics reported by governmental bodies and news outlets are central to inform the public and to guide health policy. We searched Canadian governmental and news outlets websites to determine how COVID-19 case statistics were reported to the general public, whether they were reported with appropriate denominators, data sources, and accounted for age, sex, and race or ethnicity. Canadian COVID-19 data reporting practices were found to have limited utility due to varying case definitions, heterogeneous and dynamic testing criteria, lack of appropriate standardization accounting for dynamics, sizes, and characteristics of the populations being tested. Population-wide representative COVID-19 testing should be implemented to enable accurate estimation of the scale and dynamics of the epidemiological situation. Comprehensive COVID-19 data on underrepresented and marginalized populations should be collected and reported in an effort to develop equitable health policies.

Keywords: COVID-19; Coronavirus; Disease reporting; Epidemiological reporting standards.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 Testing
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Research Design