Abstract: Experiences of Racism and Healthcare Access Barriers Among Racialized Immigrants and Refugees in Canada (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

Experiences of Racism and Healthcare Access Barriers Among Racialized Immigrants and Refugees in Canada

Saturday, January 15, 2022
Supreme Court, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Rusty Souleymanov, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, Canada
Bolaji Akinyele-Akanbi, MSW, PhD Candidate, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, Canada
Patricia Ukoli, BSW student, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, Canada
Background: International research suggests that racialized migrants experience a great deal of structural issues and stress resulting from discrimination, racism and other forms of social exclusion. Little research is available on the access to healthcare for racialized migrant populations in Canada. This community-based participatory study examined healthcare access among racialized migrant populations in Manitoba (one of Canada’s Prairie provinces).

Methods: Participants (n = 26) from racialized migrant communities (including newcomers and immigrants, refugees, and people without legal resident status) from African, Caribbean, Black; Latin American/Latinx; and East and Southeast Asian communities were recruited using printed flyers at community-based organizations and social media across the province of Manitoba. In-depth semi-structured online and phone interviews were conducted with all participants (interpreters were available for any participant requiring an interpreter). Participants were asked to answer questions about their health (including physical, mental, sexual, and social health), experiences of migration, and experiences with healthcare providers in Manitoba. Data were analyzed using qualitative coding software (MAXQDA), utilizing thematic analysis methods.

Results: We found that various intersecting elements (racism, stigma, socio-economic marginalization) render racialized migrant communities in Manitoba vulnerable to health disparities and affect their access to healthcare. Many participants commented on the experiences of racism and discrimination, including interpersonal racism which manifested in interactions with healthcare providers, and other forms of systemic racism (particularly when it came to employment and workplace). A number of participants specifically commented on anti-Black racism and microaggressions in healthcare contexts, which negatively affected their engagement with and access to health care. Many respondents also commented on the effects of racism on their mental health. Finally, participants provided recommendation on creating supportive environments and resisting racism in healthcare and other contexts.

Conclusions and Implications: This research presented evidence of racism in healthcare and other contexts. The study findings highlight deleterious impacts of racial discrimination on the health and healthcare access for racialized migrant communities in Canada. Social work researchers should consider the role racial marginalization plays in the development of healthcare barriers and potential negative health outcomes for racialized migrant communities. Social workers should also continue support funding for research and programs specifically designed for racialized and migrant communities in Canada.