Labor Exploitation and Health Inequities Among Market Migrants: A Political Economy Perspective

  • Iffath Unissa Syed


Previous discourses have recognized institutionalized forms of racism and pointed to structural violence embedded in Canadian policies, institutions, and labor markets. However, there is limited connection of these experiences to health. This paper theorizes a novel connection of health inequities experienced by racialized and immigrant peoples in Canada as a result of globalization and market liberalism. Beginning with a brief historical overview of the slave trade and indentured workers’ experiences, it is suggested that today there is a new variant of slave labor and indentured work. Employing a political economy perspective, this paper suggests the exploitation of “Market Migrants” in Canada. Racialized and migrant workers in Canada experience high levels of precarious work, denizenship, social exclusion, social inequality, and eventually health inequities, which is a result of discrimination experienced by these groups. It reveals that the government has failed to address these issues because of control and lobby through powerful economic and political structures that benefit from the situation as it stands. However, given that there are economic losses to migrant skill underutilization and the growing frustrations manifest in uprisings against these systems of dominance, the current situation is unsustainable and transformation is expected.


Colonial theory Immigration Class Health Workplace violence Social history Slavery Political economy Neoliberalism Marxism Migrant workers Worker health Social determinants of health Working conditions 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Health Policy and Management, Faculty of HealthYork UniversityTorontoCanada

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