Healthy Immigrants? Healthy Workers? High-Skilled Immigrants Working in Low-Skilled Jobs in Ottawa, Canada
Subedi, Rajendra P.
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Immigrants play very important roles in maintaining demographic balance, cultural diversity and the economic prosperity of Canada, but new immigrants face challenges such as unemployment, underemployment, job insecurity, poverty and a poorer quality of life (Jackson, 2005). A significant number of foreign-trained skilled workers are employed in low-skilled service sector jobs in major Canadian cities (Creese & Wiebe, 2009). These workers tend to have elevated mental and physical health problems because of lower self-esteem and job dissatisfaction; extended hours of work with minimum wages; and job insecurity. They are generally sleep-deprived and are more likely to follow unhealthy behaviours and lifestyles. Therefore, the major objective of this thesis was to understand the role of work-related stress, job-dissatisfaction, health behaviours and lifestyle in determining mental and physical health status of immigrants working as taxi drivers, and convenience store or gas station workers in the city of Ottawa, Canada. This thesis used a “sequential explanatory” mixed-methods approach of data collection and analysis (Creswell, 2009). Secondary data from the 2001 and 2010 Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) and primary survey (n=146) and interview (n=19) data collected in the City of Ottawa in 2014 were analyzed to understand skilled immigrants’ mental and physical health status and their determinants. The findings of the research are organized into four chapters. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to understand the determinants of deteriorating health status of the general immigrant population in Canada and also to understand the predictors of mental and physical health status specific to skilled immigrants working in the city of Ottawa. The interview data were analyzed using a Grounded Theory (GT) approach to understand perceived work-related stress, social status and health status of high-skilled immigrants working in low-skilled jobs. The findings reveal that skilled immigrants working in low-skilled jobs have a higher level of work-related stress, job dissatisfaction, and poor mental and physical health status. The findings contribute to the existing literature on the debates about the Healthy Immigrant Effect (HIE), Healthy Worker Effect (HWE) and broader immigration policy by exploring the health status of skilled immigrants working in low-skilled jobs.