Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 259–268 | Cite as

Providing Social Support for Immigrants and Refugees in Canada: Challenges and Directions

  • Laura Simich
  • Morton Beiser
  • Miriam Stewart
  • Edward Mwakarimba
Article

Abstract

In this article we report research findings from a qualitative study of social support for immigrants and refugees in Canada. We focus on challenges from the perspectives of 137 service providers and policymakers in health and immigrant settlement who participated in in-depth interviews and focus groups in three Canadian cities. Results show that social support is perceived to play an important role in immigrant settlement and to have a positive impact on immigrant health, although immigrants face many systemic challenges. Systemic issues—limited resources, lack of integration of policies and programs and narrow service mandates—also limit service providers’ abilities to meet newcomer’s needs. This research suggests that changes in public discourse about immigrants’ contributions, improved governance and service coordination, and a holistic, long-term perspective are important to more effectively support immigrant settlement and to promote immigrant health and well being.

Keywords

social support immigrants Canada policy and services barriers 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. 1.
    Wilkinson R, Marmot M (eds.): Social Determinants of Health: The Solid Facts. Copenhagen: World Health Organization, Centre for Urban Health; 2003Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Stewart MJ (ed.): Chronic Conditions and Caregiving in Canada: Social Support Strategies. Toronto: University of Toronto Press; 2000Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Stewart, MJ, Lagille, L: A framework for social support assessment and intervention in the context of chronic conditions and caregiving: In: Stewart, MJ, ed. Chronic Conditions and Caregiving in Canada: Social Support Strategies. Toronto: University of Toronto Press; 2000:3–28Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Bloom JR: The relationship of social support and health. Soc Sci Med 1990; 39(5):635–637CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Dunn JR, Dyck I: Social determinants of health in Canada’s immigrant population: Results from the National Population Health Survey. Soc Sci Med 2000; 51: 1573–1593CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Statistics Canada: 2001 Census, Ottawa, ON: Statistics Canada; 2002Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Statistics Canada: Canada’s Ethnocultural Portrait: The Changing Mosaic. 2001 Census: Analysis Series. Ottawa, ON: Statistics Canada; 2003Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees: Refugee Resettlement: An international handbook to guide reception and integration. Melbourne: Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture, with UNHCR, Geneva; 2002Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Chen J, Ng E, Wilkins R: The health of Canada’s immigrants in 1994–1995, Statistics Canada. Health Rep 1996; 8(3): 29–37Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Perez CE: Health Status and Health Behaviour among Immigrants, Supplement to Health Rep. Ottawa, ON: Statistics Canada; 2002Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Hyman I: Immigration and health. Health Policy Working Paper Series. Working paper 01–05. Ottawa, ON: Health Canada; 2001. Available at http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/iacb-dgiac/arad-draa/english/rmdd/wpapers/wpapers1.html.
  12. 12.
    Grieco E: The Effects of Migration on the Establishment of Networks: Caste Disintegration and Reformation among the Indians of Fiji. Int Migr Rev 1998; 32:704–736Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Hagan J: Social Networks, gender, and immigrant incorporation: Resources and constraints. Am Sociol Rev 1998; 63(1): 55–67Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    House JS: Work, Stress and Social Support. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley; 1981Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    House JS, Umberson D, and Landis KR: Structures and Processes of Social Support. Annu Rev of Sociol 1988; 14:293–318CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Thoits P: Social Support as Coping Assistance. J Consult Clinic Psych 1986; 54(4):416–423CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Anderson JM: Immigrant women speak of chronic illness: The social construction of the devalued self. J Adv Nurs 1991; 16(6):710–717PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Beiser M: Strangers at the Gate: The ‘Boat People’s’ First Ten Years in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press; 1999Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Statistics Canada: Highlights of the Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada, Wave 1, 2000–2001. Ottawa, ON: Statistics Canada; 2004Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Aroian KJ: Sources of social support and conflict for Polish immigrants. Qual Health Res 1992; 2(2):178–207Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Baker C: The Stress of Settlement Where There is No Ethnocultural Receiving Community: In: Masi R, Mensah L, McLeod K, eds. Health and Cultures, Volume II: Programs, Services and Care. Oakville, ON: Mosaic Press; 1993: 263–276Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Janesick VJ: The choreography of qualitative research design: Minuets, improvisations and crystallization: In: Denzin N, Lincoln Y. eds. Handbook of Qualitative Research, 2nd edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications; 1994:379–400Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Sue DW, Arredondo P, McDavis RJ: Multicultural counselling competencies and standards: A call to the profession. J Multicultural Counsel Develop 1992; 20:64–88Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Galabuzi GE: Social exclusion: In: Raphael, D, ed. Social Determinants of Health: Canadian Perspectives. Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press; 2004: 235–251Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Lochhead C: The Transition Penalty: Unemployment among Recent Immigrants to Canada. CLBC Commentary. Ottawa: Canadian Labour and Business Centre; 2003Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Kazemipur A, Halli S: Immigrants and ‘New Poverty:’ The Case of Canada. Inter Migration Rev 2001; 35(4):1128–1156Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    McIsaac E: Nation Building through Cities: A new deal for immigrant settlement in Canada. Ottawa: The Caledon Institute of Social Policy; 2003Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Edgington DW, Hutton T: Multiculturalism and Local Government in Greater Vancouver, Working Paper Series No. 02–06. Vancouver: Vancouver Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Integration in the Metropolis; 2002Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Citizenship and Immigration Canada: The Monitor: Highlights for the Third Quarter, 2003. Ottawa: Citizenship and Immigration Canada; 2004. Available at http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/monitor/issue04/index.html.
  30. 30.
    Badets J, Howatson-Leo L: Recent Immigrants in the Workforce. Canadian Social Trends 2000; 3:15–21Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Kunz JL, Milan A and Schetagne S: Unequal Access: A Canadian Profile of Racial Differences in Education, Employment and Income. Toronto: Canadian Race Relations Foundation; 2002Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Li P: Earning disparities between immigrants and native-born Canadians. Canadian Rev Sociol Anthropol 2000; 37(3):289–311Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Noh S, Beiser M, Kaspar V, Hou F and Rummens J: Perceived racial discrimination, depression and coping: A study of Southeast Asian refugees in Canada. J Health Soc Behav 1999; 40:193–207PubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Quill BE, Aday L, Hacker CS and Reagan JK: Policy incongruence and public health professionals’ dissonance: The case of immigrants and welfare policy. J Immigr Health 1999; 1(1):9–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Richmond T, Shields J: Third Sector Restructuring and the New Contracting Regime: The Case of Immigrant Serving Agencies in Ontario, CERIS Policy Matters No. 3. Toronto: Centre of Excellence for Research in Immigration and Settlement; 2004Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Shields J: No Safe Haven: Markets, Welfare, and Migrants, CERIS Policy Matters, No. 7. Toronto: Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Settlement; 2004Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Steele LS, Lemieux-Charles L, Clark JP, Glazier R: The impact of policy changes on the health of recent immigrants and refugees in the inner city. Can J Public Health 2002; 93(2):118–122PubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Mwarigha MS: Towards a Framework for Local Responsibility: Taking Action to End the Current Limbo in Immigrant Settlement. Toronto: Maytree Foundation; 2002Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Gold J, DesMeules M: National symposium on immigrant health in Canada: Afterword. Can J Public Health 2004; 95(3):I38–39Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    MacPherson DW, Gushulak B: Human mobility and population health: New approaches in a globalizing world. Perspect Biol Med 2001; 44(3):390–401PubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Gushulak B, William, L: National Immigration Health Policy: Existing Policy, Changing Needs and Future Directions. Can J Public Health 2004; 95(3):I27–I29PubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Saint-Martin D: Coordinating Interdependence: Governance and Social Policy Redesign in Britain, the European Union and Canada. CPRN Research Report F/41. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Policy Research Networks, Inc; 2004Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Hart J T: The inverse care law. Lancet 1971; 1:405–12PubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Hart JT: Commentary: Three decades of the inverse care law. Brit J Med 2000; 320:18–19Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura Simich
    • 1
    • 2
  • Morton Beiser
    • 3
    • 4
  • Miriam Stewart
    • 5
    • 6
  • Edward Mwakarimba
    • 7
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of TorontoCanada
  2. 2.Culture, Community and Health Studies ProgramCentre for Addiction and Mental HealthToronto
  3. 3.Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of TorontoCanada
  4. 4.Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and SettlementToronto
  5. 5.Institute of Gender and HealthCanadian Institutes of Health ResearchToronto
  6. 6.Faculties of Nursing, Public Health Sciences and MedicineUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  7. 7.Social Support Research ProgramUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

Personalised recommendations