Sunday, June 13, 2010


Letters to the editor
Posted 10 days ago


Shock and disbelief only partially capture my reaction to the inflammatory comments made by Dr. Harold Hynscht regarding the influx of visits by migrant workers to his clinic (Reformer, May 19).

While it seems that he was attempting to gain sympathy for the high volume of visits to his clinic on Friday night, describing the large number of migrant workers as "awful" and how it "off ends him" not only shows a disregard for the health needs of migrant workers, but also squarely puts the blames for their precarious access to health care on the migrant workers themselves.

Migrant workers, many of whom have worked here for decades, form the backbone of our local agricultural industry, and are entitled to health care access. However they face insurmountable barriers to access this care. From isolation and alienation in rural communities, a lack of independent transportation and interpretation services, to the threat of repatriation if they cannot work due to illness or injury.

They also may face permanent disbarment from Canada if their employer or government representative are of the view that a migrant worker is not fit to work the following year.

The health needs of migrant workers are many and the services provided to address their particular concerns are few.

A specific migrant health care strategy is needed from both the province and the federal government.

However the comments provided by Dr. Hynscht are neither productive nor helpful in advancing collective concerns about our current health care system.

Regardless of whether or not his intent was to single out the migrant worker community, the impact of his comments further compound the disparate situation that awaits sick or injured migrant workers.

As part of a migrant rights collective that has worked with migrant workers for over a decade, I can attest to the many workers who are suffering in their home country as a result of injuries or ailments received while working in Canada.

A recent report on the social determinants of health found that racialized residents of Canada were disproportionately disadvantaged in areas such as housing, employment, education and access to health care. Now imagine the additional barriers that rural racialized communities face, particularly those who endure both precarious immigration and employment status?

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