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New Canadian immigrants more likely to sustain workplace injuries


August 11, 2008
By Manufacturing AUTOMATION

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Toronto – The Institute for Work & Health (IWH) has released two new studies comparing work conditions and injury rates between immigrants and workers born in Canada.The studies found that not only are immigrants to Canada more likely to have poorer job situations, but men are also twice as likely to sustain workplace injuries that require medical care compared with men born in Canada.

“Immigrants with five or fewer years in Canada are more likely to have higher qualifications than their jobs require, to have physically demanding jobs and to work fewer hours than they want to,” says Dr. Peter Smith, a scientist at IWH and the lead researcher of both studies. New immigrants are also less likely to have supervisory responsibilities, to be unionized or to have access to employment benefits.

“It is surprising that we know so little about this issue, given that immigrants will account for all labour force growth in Canada over the next five to six years,” he adds. “Currently, provincial workers’ compensation agencies don’t collect information on the immigrant status of injured workers, and the surveys we looked at were not designed specifically to answer these questions.”

The research also shows that conditions may be worse for certain types of immigrants–and may linger for years. Immigrants who are visible minorities, whose mother tongue is not English, or whose highest degree is from outside Canada are more likely to be overqualified, to lack supervisory responsibilities and to be underemployed. Up to 20 years later, immigrants are still less likely to receive non-wage benefits or be unionized.