• migrantworkerhealth.ca
  • CONNECT. CONSIDER. CHANGE.
  • A guide for health care providers
  • HEALTH RISKS AND ISSUES AMONG MIGRANT WORKERS: faqs

    What is the general profile of migrant farm workers?

    What is the working context for migrant workers?

    What are the main health risks among migrant workers?

    What are common health concerns among migrant workers?

    What is the general profile of migrant farm workers?

    Most migrant workers are young or middle aged men from developing countries (a small proportion are women, most of whom are single mothers). Most have low levels of education and literacy, generally do not speak or read English unless it is their first language, and come from rural areas with few economic opportunities. Generally, they are in good health prior to coming to Canada and have dependents who rely on their income.

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    What is the working context for migrant workers?

    Migrant workers normally work from 6-7 days a week, 8-12 hours a day, though these hours can increase substantially during the high season. They often lack sufficient breaks, health and safety training, and personal protective equipment.

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    What are the main health risks among migrant workers?

    Main health risks include:

    Occupational exposures/hazards e.g. poor ventilation systems in greenhouses, heavy lifting, repetitive and awkward postures, agrochemicals, unsafe farm equipment, soil, insects, plants, weather extremes, and confined spaces, unsafe transportation (e.g. farm vehicles, bicycles) some have poor living and housing conditions stressful separations from families, cultural dislocation and a lack of social support in Canada.

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    What are common health concerns among migrant workers?

    From 2006 to 2010 the Norfolk General Hospital (Simcoe, Ontario) received 888 migrant worker visits, 177 per year on average. The type of ER cases by diagnosis/system is summarized below:

    Diagnosis/System
    Number Of Visits
    %
    Injury/trauma 218 28.3
    GI 106 13.8
    MSK 81 10.5
    Resp 66 8.6
    Skin 66 8.6
    Urinary 61 7.9
    Eye 39 5.1
    Neurological 26 3.4
    Cardiac 16 2.1
    Psychological 7 0.9
    Cancer 2 0.3
    Other 77 10.0


    In addition, research and clinical observations have also noted sexual and reproductive health (sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancies), and mental and emotional health (depression, anxiety, addictions) as common concerns among workers.

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