You are now in the main content area

Thank you to the many people who responded to our fundraising appeal for the "Workers Bowl." Your Donations helped us reach our goal!

“Working so hard and still so poor!”

A Public Health Crisis in the Making: The Health Impacts of Precarious Work on Racialized Refugee and Immigrant Women
By: Winnie Ng, Aparna Sundar, Jennifer Poole, Bhutila Karpoche, Idil Abdillahi, Sedef Arat-Koc, Akua Benjamin, Grace-Edward Galabuzi
October 17, 2016

A growing proportion of precarious employment held by immigrant and refugee women. This report, a collaboration between Ryerson’s Faculty of Arts, Faculty of Community Services and the Centre for Labour Management Relations, demonstrates how precarious work is a determinant of poor health.  The study makes visible an impending public health crisis which is largely invisible. 

  • The participants of this study work mostly in the personal services sector such as: personal support workers, childcare, beauty and wellness workers, as well as food workers.
  • The report uses a community-based research methodology, which centres the lived experiences of the participants and actively incorporates the voices of the participants in the study.
  • The term “precarity capture” is used in the report to define the intersecting forms of precarity such as lack of credentials and experience recognition, lack of economic base, uncertain immigration status, social isolation, and multiple systemic barriers which combine to trap employees in a cycle of precarious employment.
  • These workers experience a high degree of workplace discrimination and harassment, which leads to health issues. 
  • This health crisis targets both physical and mental health. It also affects immigrant and racialized women workers’ family and communities.
  • Precarious work leads to extortionist working practices as well as a constant fear of not having enough hours of work.  There is no ability to take sick leave, as that would mean lost wages or getting fired.
  • The report ends with policy change recommendations that would support the physical and mental health of women workers, end economic injustices, confront systemic discrimination, and reform the temporary agency system.
  • Some recommendations of the report:
    • A right to paid sick days
    • Affordable and accessible childcare
    • Enforcement of occupational health and safety laws
    • Universal pharmacare and dental care programs
    • A higher minimum wage
    • Wage parity regardless of job status
    • Decent and stable hours of work
    • Effective pathways from agency work to permanent positions
    • Ontario anti-racism directorate to address anti-racism in the workplace
    • Equitable access to trades and professions for racialized women workers

    Download the report: "Working so hard and still so poor, external link, opens in new window!"