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Lancet paper: COVID-19, Structural Racism & Migrant Health in Canada

February 3, 2021   |   Blog, News

A new paper by Drs. Germaine Tuyisenge and Shira Goldenberg published in The Lancet calls for urgent action on structural racism amidst the global pandemic.

COVID-19, Structural Racism & Migrant Health in Canada explores the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 among racialized migrants in Canada, a high-income migration destination country. It acknowledges structural racism as key to understanding health inequities faced by racialized migrants, noting that migrants are overrepresented in essential jobs yet face unequal access to health and other support services.

“Given Canada’s long history of racism and colonial violence, it is no surprise that structural racism has translated into gaps in health-care access among racialized migrants,” said Dr. Tuyisenge. The paper cites examples of poor health care access, including limited health insurance eligibility, limited “access without fear” policies in healthcare settings (e.g. requirement to present proof of status) and gaps in culturally and linguistically appropriate care.

“Given Canada’s long history of racism and colonial violence, it is no surprise that structural racism has translated into gaps in health-care access among racialized migrants.”

The evidence calls for urgent action in order to meet the human rights needs of racialized migrants. “It is imperative that the policies and practices of high-income destinations like Canada ensure health care access for all during – and beyond – the pandemic,” Dr. Goldenberg said. “Culturally and linguistically appropriate health care services, ‘access without fear’ policies, and anti-oppression training for care providers are also urgently needed.”

A final recommendation is for governments and policymakers in destination countries to implement intersectoral, equity-oriented immigration and labour interventions, especially in sectors that rely heavily on migration. “And critically, all interventions and decision making must be informed by the voices of migrants who have the best insight into their own needs and priorities,” Dr. Tuyisenge said.