Migrant farm workers face persistent back pain, depression

JASON KRYK PHOTO

Every year, over 27,000 temporary agricultural workers come to Canada from the global South. We’ve explored the vulnerabilities of this population previously on the HJRC and today we focus in on the findings of an article recently published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, entitled “Doctors within borders: Meeting the healthcare needs of migrant farm workers in Canada,” by Michael Pysklywec MD MSc, Janet McLaughlin PhD, Michelle Tew RN, Ted Haines MD MSc. The authors identify health issues faces by migrant agricultural workers in Canada which are directly related to their long hours of labour. They include: musculoskeletal injuries, dermatological (contact dermatitis from pesticide use etc.), and psychological issues (depression, anxiety, inconsistent sleep patters).The authors write,

” In our experience, the precarious nature of the employment status of migrant farm workers has a substantial impact on how this population is managed clinically. Their physical health is directly related to their ability to work in Canada. Fear of repatriation or loss of future Canadian employment lead to unwillingness to report injury or illness, apply for workers’ compensation or follow through on treatment plans such as work modification or absence.”

On today’s episode of the HJRC, we speak with Dr. Michael Pysklywec, one of the paper’s authors who sees migrant workers at a clinic in Simcoe, Ontario.

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