Undocumented Migrants in Canada: A Scope Literature Review on Health, Access to Services, and Working Conditions

  • Lilian Magalhaes
  • Christine Carrasco
  • Denise Gastaldo
Review Paper

Abstract

It is estimated that there are 30–40 million undocumented workers worldwide. Although undocumented migration has become an issue of high international relevance, it has been strikingly understudied in Canada, especially with respect to its impact on health. The purpose of this study is to explore the concept of undocumentedness in Canada through a scoping review of peer-reviewed and grey literature written in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish between 2002 and 2008. The specific aims are to: (i) summarize and disseminate current academic and community-based findings on the health, service access and working conditions of undocumented migrants in Canada; (ii) examine the sources and use of evidence; (iii) identify significant gaps in existing knowledge; (iv) set recommendations for policy and research, including considerations on transnationalism, ethics, interdisciplinary approaches, gender differences, resilience, and impact on the children of non-status parents.

Keywords

Undocumented workers Health Migration Social justice Canada 

References

  1. 1.
    Papademetriou DG. The global struggle with illegal migration: no end in sight. 1 Sept 2005. Retrieved on Nov 18, 2008, from http://www.migrationinformation.org/feature/display.cfm?ID=336.
  2. 2.
    Soave Strategy Group (SSG). The impact of undocumented workers on the residential construction industry in the GTA. Toronto: SSG, Prepared for: Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA); 2006.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Through the Back Door. Canada and the world backgrounder. Dec 2006;72(3):7–21.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Boyd M. Gender aspects of international migration to Canada and the United States. In International symposium on international migration and development. Turin, Italy: Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations; 2006.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Jimenez M. 200,000 illegal immigrants toiling in Canada’s underground economy. The globe and Mail. 15 Nov 2003. p. A1.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Wright C. Moments of emergence: organizing by and with undocumented and non-citizen people in Canada after September 11. Refuge. 2003;21(3):5–15.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Khandor E, et al. The regularization of non-status immigrants in Canada 1960–2004: past policies, current perspectives, active campaigns. 2004.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Messias DK. Concept development: exploring undocumentedness. Scholarly Inquiry for Nursing Practice: An International Journal. 1996;10(3):235–52.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Calavita K. Gender, migration, and law: crossing borders and bridging disciplines. International Migration Review. 2006;40(1):104–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Goldring L, Berinstein C, Bernhard J. Institutionalizing precarious immigration status in Canada. San Diego: The Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, University of California; 2007.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Oxman-Martinez J, et al. Intersection of Canadian policy parameters affecting women with precarious immigration status: a baseline for understanding barriers to health. Journal of Immigrant Health. 2005;7(4):247–58.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Santos O. Undocumented workers-an issue of particular relevance to Canadian residents of Portuguese origin. Portuguese Canadian National Congress. 2005.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Omidvar R, Richmond T. Immigrant settlement and social inclusion in Canada. Working Papers Series. Toronto: Laidlaw Foundation; 2003.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    World Health Organization (WHO). International migration, health, and human rights. Health and human rights publication series, no. 4, 2003. Retrieved on Dec 17, 2008, from http://www.who.int/hhr/activities/en/FINAL-Migrants-English-June04.pdf.
  15. 15.
    Arksey H, O’Malley L. Scoping studies: towards a methodological framework. International Journal of Social Research Methodology. 2005;8(1):19–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Berger AA. Media analysis techniques. 3rd ed. Thousand Oaks: Sage; 2004.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Popay J, et al. Guidance on the conduct of narrative synthesis in systematic reviews: a product from the ESRC methods programme. Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Methods Programme. 2006.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Bernhard JK, et al. Living with precarious legal status in Canada: implications for the well-being of children and families. Refuge. 2007;24(2):101–14.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Rousseau C, et al. Health care access for refugees and immigrants with precarious status: public health and human right challenges. Canadian Journal of Public Health. 2008;99(4):290–2.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Simich L, Wu F, Nerad S. Status and health security: an exploratory study of irregular immigrants in Toronto. Canadian Journal of Public Health. 2007;98(5):369–73.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Caulford P, Vali Y. Providing health care to medically uninsured immigrants and refugees. Canadian Medical Association Journal. 2006;174(9):1253–4.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Lowry M, Nyers P. “No one is illegal”: the fight for refugee and migrant rights in Canada. Refuge. 2003;21(3):66–72.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Berinstein C, et al. Access not fear: non-status immigrants & city services. 2006.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Committee for Accessible AIDS Treatment (CAAT). Transformation through collective action: best practices in migration, HIV and mental health. Toronto: CAAT; 2008.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Community Social Planning Council of Toronto (CSPC-T). The right to learn: access to public education for non-status immigrants. Toronto: CSPC-T; 2008.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Paradis E, et al. Better off in a shelter? a year of homelessness & housing among status immigrant, non-status migrant, & Canadian-born families. Toronto: Centre for Urban and Community Studies Cities Centre, University of Toronto; 2008.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Oxman-Martinez J, Hanley J. Research on diversity: contributions to better health policy and practice, in our diverse cities. In: Andrew C, editor. The Metropolis Project. 2004.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Access Alliance, Racialised Groups and Health Status. A literature review exploring poverty, housing, race-based discrimination and access to health care as determinants of health for racialised groups. Toronto: Access Alliance Multicultural Community Health Centre (AAMCHC); 2005.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Committee for Accessible AIDS Treatment (CAAT). Status, access & health disparities: a literature review report on relevant policies and programs affecting people living with HIV/AIDS who are immigrants, refugees or without status in Canada. Toronto: CAAT; 2006.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Community Social Planning Council of Toronto (CSPC-T), Davenport Perth Neighbourhood Centre. Access to services without fear immigration campaign: Toronto community services resource guide. Toronto: CSPC-T and Davenport Perth Neighbourhood Centre; 2007.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Parkdale Community Legal Services (PCLS). Guide to social membership entitlements. Toronto: PCLS; 2005.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Rights of Non-Status Women Network (RNSWN). Non-status women in Canada: fact sheet. 2006. Retrieved on Dec 21, 2009, from http://atwork.settlement.org/sys/atwork_offsite_frame.asp?link=http://www.womanabuse.ca/.
  33. 33.
    Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO). Every child’s legal right to education. Toronto: CLEO; 2006.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Tilson D. Temporary foreign workers and nonstatus workers May 2009. Report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Cavazos-Regh P, Zayas L, Spitznagel E. Legal status, emotional well-being and subjective health status of Latino immigrants. Journal of the National Medical Association. 2007;99(10):1126–31.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Alcoba N. Where the uninsured go for health care. National Post. 13 Jan 2007. p. A12.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Keung N. Illegals afraid to see a doctor; appointments cancelled out of deportation fears Health workers want Ottawa to issue moratorium. Toronto Star. 23 May 2006. p. A04.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Henderson H. Child shut out of help he’s entitled to; parents’ uncertain status a barrier. Toronto Star. 3 Sept 2005. p. L04.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Hart M. Women, migration, and the body-less spirit of capitalist patriarchy. Journal of International Women’s Studies. 2005;7(2):1–16.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Raghuram P, Kofman E. Out of Asia: skilling, re-skilling and de-skilling of female migrants. Women’s Studies International Forum. 2004;27:95–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Slade B. Gender, race, and the social construction of skill in Canadian engineering: the deskilling of immigrant women engineers. 2003. Retrieved on 27 Dec 2008 from http://www.oise.utoronto.ca/CASAE/cnf2003/2003_papers/bonniesladeCAS03.pdf.
  42. 42.
    Panter-Brick C. Homelessness, poverty, and risks to health: beyond at risk categorization of street children. Children’s Geographies. 2004;2(1):83–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Campbell WS. Lessons in resilience. Affilia. 2008;23(3):231–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Perez W, et al. Academic resilience among undocumented Latino students. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences. 2009;31(2):141–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Schatz EJ. Reframing vulnerability: Mozambican refugees’ access to state-funded pensions in rural South Africa. J Cross-Cult Gerontol. 2009. [Online].Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lilian Magalhaes
    • 1
  • Christine Carrasco
    • 2
  • Denise Gastaldo
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Occupational TherapyUniversity of Western OntarioLondonCanada
  2. 2.Dalla Lana School of Public HealthUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of NursingUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

Personalised recommendations