News release

Working Group Will Support Race-Based Data Collection Initiative

The Nova Scotia government has established a community-based working group to support the collection of race-based data in the health system.

Collecting and interpreting race-based health data will help the government identify and address inequities in health care and better serve racialized people by collaborating on community-level programs and initiatives.

“We know that race is one of the factors that affects people’s access to care. Collecting this data will help us better understand what Nova Scotia’s diverse populations need to be healthy,” said Premier Iain Rankin. “Communities have asked for this, and we will continue to work with them to address barriers and promote equity in health care.”

Racialized groups, especially African Nova Scotian health organizations, have long requested that the province collect race-based data in the health system to support evidence-based health decisions. The Primary Reference Working Group, with representatives from several racialized populations in Nova Scotia, will help lead community consultations in the coming months and develop a community-based approach to supporting data collection.

Members of the Primary Reference Working Group are:

  • Atousa Costandi, Iranian Cultural Society of Nova Scotia
  • Azharul Hoque, Bangladesh Community Association of Nova Scotia
  • Benedette Anyanwu, United African Canadian Women’s Association
  • Dolly Mirpuri, Indian Festivals Club of Nova Scotia
  • María José Yax-Fraser, Immigrant Migrant Women's Association of Halifax
  • Sharon Davis-Murdoch, Health Association of African Canadians

Data collection will be voluntary and is expected to begin in late 2021.


Systemic racism can impact people’s health in multiple ways. Collecting race-based data is one step toward ensuring our health system is providing equitable and accessible care, treatment and prevention programs that meet the needs of all Nova Scotians. Zach Churchill, Minister of Health and Wellness

We thank the members of the working group who are bringing their experience and expertise to this important work. We know it’s critical to work directly with the communities most affected, so people understand how collecting this information will help identify and address specific health needs. Tony Ince, Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs and Minister responsible for the Office of Equity and Anti-Racism Initiatives

It will be good to collect health data with us rather than to collect data on us. The key is to engage communities about the ethical collection, interpretation and ownership of health data in Nova Scotia. Sharon Davis-Murdoch, co-president, Health Association of African Canadians

Equity and diversity are paramount to make a sustainable health-care system and a healthy community. One in five Canadians is a visible minority, and the more we know, the more we can identify and remove racism and discrimination and address health-care inequalities for a better Nova Scotia. Azharul Hoque, founding member, Bangladesh Community Association of Nova Scotia

Quick Facts:

  • the province is working to adapt a standard for self-identification proposed by the Canadian Institute for Health Information to reflect input from racialized groups in Nova Scotia
  • information will be stored in a database and protected by provincial privacy and security protocols. No racial identification will be included on health cards
  • collecting data to better serve African Nova Scotian communities is an action identified in Count Us In: Nova Scotia’s Action Plan in Response to the International Decade for People of African Descent
  • First Nations have existing data-sharing agreements with federal and provincial governments, developed through First Nations-led initiatives over the past decade. Conversations with Mi’kmaw health leaders are continuing to determine how they might engage with the race-based data initiative

Additional Resources:

Canadian Institute for Health Information proposed standards for race-based and Indigenous identity data:

Count Us In: Nova Scotia’s Action Plan in Response to the International Decade for People of African Descent