Mexican worker, Niagara-on-the-Lake, September 2008.While Preibisch and Otero (2014), in their comparison of workplace health andsafety for immigrant and migrant farm workers, found that immigrants also concealedillnesses from their employers and labour contractors out of fear of losing theiremployment, they argue that migrants face unique vulnerabilities. While immigrantswith partial or full formal citizenship may face barriers finding employment outsideagriculture, they have the legal right to do so and the eligibility for government-fundedlanguage classes that can improve their labour market attachment. In further distinctionfrom migrants in state-managed labour programmes, immigrants can rely on theirfamily members physically located in Canada and, for those landed for more than10 years, gain access to welfare.In addition to fears in reporting illnesses, migrant farm workers also face barriers toreceiving adequate care, including long hours of work coupled with limited knowledgeof the health care system. They lack independent transportation to clinics and once thereare often faced with long wait times, language barriers and cultural issues. Migrantsdescribed some of their experiences accessing health care in the following ways:I got an infection. When I went to the hospital I encountered translation problemsbecause the person that went with me left me alone in the hospital before gettingthe medical attention. It was embarrasing. Mexican worker, Bradford, June 2008.I had a bladder infection and told the supervisor, but he would not take me to thedoctor. I had to ride my bike 4 km after work in the evening. Jamaican worker,Niagara-on-the-Lake, November 2008.J. Hennebry et al.
Health care mediation by employers emerged as a noteworthy theme throughout thestudy. Not only do employers mediate migrants’access to care by providing transpor-tation, translation, and access to private insurance (in the case of the S-LSO), they alsoare responsible for taking them to apply for provincial health cards required by theOntario Health Insurance Program (OHIP). In fact, we found that despite having legalaccess to an OHIP card (which beneficiaries are encouraged to carry at all times andrequired to prove entitlement to health care services), nearly a fifth of our surveyrespondents (19 %) claimed not to have the card. Without an OHIP card in theirpossession, other barriers are compounded as migrants must also depend on theemployer to mediate access to the card. As one worker puts it,“[I didn’t access healthcare because] a person who drove over my foot did not want to get in trouble. Also, Idid not have a health card.”Jamaican worker in Niagara-on-the-Lake, September 2008.As previously mentioned, unlike Canadian permanent residents or citizens, migrantsare dependent on employers to obtain their health cards. This additional barrier emergesdirectly from their liminality.