Immigrant workers are expected to account for almost all net labour force growth in Canada as of 2011. Understanding the work experiences of recent immigrants (newcomers) to Canada will help ensure their smooth integration into Canadian society.
Researchers at the Institute for Work & Health (IWH) have conducted a number of important studies on recent immigrants, particularly in the area of workplace injuries, illness and compensation. These studies have resulted in important findings, as well as the development of tools and resources to help prevent workplace injuries and disabilities among newcomers. These are listed here.
Why study immigrant workers?
- This backgrounder explains the workplace challenges facing immigrant workers.
Experiences of newcomers injured on the job
An IWH study explores the experiences of new immigrants after they were injured on the job, including their knowledge of their rights, encounters with employers and health-care providers, and experiences with injury reporting and claim filing.
- Full study report (2011): Immigrant workers' experiences of injury reporting and claim filing (588 KB)
- Plain-language report (2011): Delicate dances: New immigrants' experiences after a work-related injury (1002 KB)
- At Work article (2011): Immigrant worker safety: IWH develops OHS information tool for newcomers
- Presentation video (2015): ISCRR Vulnerable Workers Forum—Dr. Agnieszka Kosny
National scan of occupational health and safety and workers' compensation resources for newcomers
The IWH study above on the experiences of injured immigrant workers revealed that the resources available in Canada to meet newcomers' information needs on the topics of employment standards, occupational health and safety and workers' compensation had not been docuemnted. To fill this gap, IWH undertook a national scan of these resources for newcomers.
- Full report (2011): Review of safety resources for recent immigrants entering the Canadian workforce (1.2 MB)
- Plenary presentation (2011): A national scan of safety resources for recent immigrants entering the Canadian workforce
Toolkit for teaching occupational health and safety and workers' compensation to newcomers
In conjunction with a community advisory committee, IWH developed a toolkit called Prevention is the Best Medicine to teach newcomers to Ontario about their occupational health and safety and workers' compensation rights and responsibilities. The toolkit is made up of 11 modules, including faciliators' guides, presentation slides and handouts for students, which are designed to be delivered to recent immigrants who are preparing to enter the labour force.
- Teaching module for Ontario (2011): Prevention is the Best Medicine
The toolkit was then adapted by Manitoba's Workers Compensation Board and Safe Work Manitoba for newcomers to that province.
- Teaching module for Manitoba (2013)
- From the Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba: Prevention is the Best Medicine: A Toolkit for Newcomers to Manitoba
- From Safe Work Manitoba: Prevention is the Best Medicine: A Toolkit for Newcomers to Manitoba
IWH also teamed up with Workplace Safety & Prevention Services—an Ontario health and safety association serving the manufacturing, services and agricultural sectors—to develop and evaluate visual symbols known as "pictograms" as a safeguard for workers at risk of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). These "pictograms," along with training, can help communicate workplace hazards and controls to worker with low literacy skills or for whom English (or the language of the workplace) is a second language. Pictograms are available for three sectors: retail, restaurant and greenhouses.
- Pictograms and related training (2012): Pictograms to prevent MSDs
Work issues of newcomers to Canada
In order to explore the work issues of newcomers at a national level, IWH held a forum on immigration, work and health in Vancouver, B.C., in 2009.
- Selected presentations and outcomes (2009): Immigrant workers' forum 2009
Over-qualification and the health of recent immigrants
The effect of job over-qualification on the health of recent immigrants, including both their general health and mental health, has been examined in a number of studies involving IWH scientists.
- Abstract (2010): The prevalence of over-qualification and its association with health status among occupationally active new immigrants to Canada
- At Work article (2011): Over-qualified immigrants at risk of poorer mental health
- At Work article (2012): Over-qualified recent immigrant men at increased risk of job injury
Work experiences of newcomers compared to Canadian-born workers
IWH researchers have conducted a number of studies on the differing work experiences of recent immigrants compared to Canadian-born workers.
- Abstract (2010): The unequal distribution of occupational health and safety risks among immigrants to Canada compared to Canadian-born labour market participants: 1993-2005
- Abstract (2009): Comparing the risk of work-related injuries between immigrants to Canada and Canadian-born labour market participants
- Abstract (2009): Differences in access to wage replacement benefits for absences due to work-related injury or illness in Canada
- Abstract (2009): Differential risk of employment in more physically demanding jobs among a recent cohort of immigrants to Canada