How do immigrants experience work disability in Canada?

Date posted: 
Thursday, December 20, 2018


For the majority of immigrants and their families, work is a cornerstone to successful integration into Canadian life. While much is known about immigrant health and employment, less is known about the impact of work on health and how this differs from Canadian-born workers, in particular for work disability. Immigrant workers may not report work injury for fear of reprisals; not understand their rights and responsibilities; and encounter challenges navigating insurance, health and human resources systems.

Data access has been approved for a study to provide a comprehensive picture of work disability experiences (from injury to return-to-work to long term health consequences) by immigration status within Canada. The project is being funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

“Emerging evidence suggests that immigrants to Canada have different experiences to Canadian-born workers and have longer work disability durations,” according to project lead, Professor Mieke Koehoorn, Head of Occupational and Environmental Health at the University of British Columbia’s School of Population and Public Health. “These different experiences may be attributed to more severe work injuries in higher risk jobs and to barriers navigating health care and employer and insurance benefits systems. Evidence also suggests important differences in disability experiences for women and young workers immigrating to Canada.”

The overall goal of this research is to provide evidence of work disability experiences among immigrant workers in Canada, as well as determinants of these experiences to inform policies, programs and procedures to reduce inequalities in the provision of health services and disability benefits. In turn this will help to facilitate productive and healthy work-life trajectories for the immigrant workforce/ population in Canada.

For the project PopData will link four data sets from the BC Ministry of Health with data from WorkSafeBC and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.


Page last revised: December 20, 2018