Chapter 5: Migrant worker strategies in access to health: recognizing agency in a context of constraints
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This chapter lays out a research agenda that looks beyond barriers to health for temporary migrant workers to explore the many forms of agency workers exercise in trying to overcome these barriers. The chapter provides a critical exploration of the various barriers that migrant workers have had in relation to access to health care in Canada (namely: cultural, policy and workplace barriers), within the context of constraints on their control of their health situation. The chapter begins with a critical overview of the evolution of the literature on migrant worker access to health over the last 20 years, and continues with the results of two recent studies. The chapter concludes with suggestions of how to improve existing policy and practice in the field. Given that little attention has been given specifically to the element of securing access to health care, specifically within the context of precarious immigration status, further research should be done within several domains, among them: how to expand knowledge of health rights among workers; understanding employers’ problematic roles as mediators in access to health care; making the links housing conditions and health; and securing a worker’s access to health care within the workplace.

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