The health of temporary foreign workers in Canada: A scoping review

Bukola Salami, Salima Meherali, Azeez Salami


OBJECTIVES: Temporary foreign workers contribute to economic prosperity in Canada, but they experience forms of structural inequities and have minimal rights, which can contribute to their ill health. The objective of this scoping review is to examine the extent, range and nature of the Canadian literature on the health of temporary foreign workers and their families in Canada.

METHODS: The review was guided by Arksey and O’Malley’s five stages for conducting a scoping review. We performed a comprehensive search of seven databases, which revealed 994 studies. In total, 10 published research papers, which focused exclusively on the health of temporary foreign workers in Canada, were included in the study; these 10 papers represented the findings from 9 studies.

SYNTHESIS: The majority of the studies involved seasonal agricultural workers in the province of Ontario (n = 8). Major health issues of temporary foreign workers included mental health, occupational health, poor housing and sanitation, and barriers to accessing health care, including fear of deportation and language barriers. These health issues are highly shaped by temporary foreign workers’ precarious immigration status in Canada.

CONCLUSION: Findings from this study demonstrate the need to reduce barriers to health care and to conduct more research on other groups of temporary foreign workers, outside the agricultural sector.


Temporary foreign workers; migrant workers; seasonal agricultural workers; migrant*; Canada

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