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Journal article

Employers' Paradoxical Views about Temporary Foreign Migrant Workers' Health: A Qualitative Study in Rural Farms in Southern Ontario

Date

2014

Authors

Miya Narushima and Ana Sanchez

Abstract

Background
The province of Ontario hosts nearly a half of Canada’s temporary foreign migrant farm
workers (MFWs). Despite the essential role played by MFWs in the economic prosperity of
the region, a growing body of research suggests that the workers’ occupational safety and
health are substandard, and often neglected by employers. This study thus explores farm
owners’ perceptions about MFWs occupational safety and general health, and their attitudes
towards health promotion for their employees.

Methods
Using modified grounded theory approach, we collected data through in-depth individual
interviews with farm owners employing MFWs in southern Ontario, Canada. Data were
analyzed following three steps (open, axial, and selective coding) to identify thematic
patterns and relationships. Nine employers or their representatives were interviewed.

Results
Four major overarching categories were identified: employers’ dependence on MFWs; their
fragmented view of occupational safety and health; their blurring of the boundaries between
the work and personal lives of the MFWs on their farms; and their reluctance to implement
health promotion programs. The interaction of these categories suggests the complex social
processes through which employers come to hold these paradoxical attitudes towards
workers’ safety and health. There is a fundamental contradiction between what employers
considered public versus personal. Despite employers’ preference to separate MFWs’
workplace safety from personal health issues, due to the fact that workers live within their
employers' property, workers' private life becomes public making their personal health a
business-related concern. Farmers’ conflicting views, combined with a lack of support from
governing bodies, hold back timely implementation of health promotion activities in the
workplace.

Journal title

International Journal for Equity in Health

Volume

13

Issue

65

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Economic sectors

Agriculture and horticulture workers

Content types

Statistics on work and life conditions

Target groups

Researchers

Geographical focuses

Ontario

Spheres of activity

Health sciences

Languages

English