A new study released by Statistics Canada has found that new immigrants to Canada are generally healthier than the Canadian-born population.
In 2016, 7.5 million immigrants were accounted for in Canada, making up 22 per cent of the population. And with almost one million immigrants predicted to be admitted between 2018 and 2020, it becomes increasingly important to monitor immigrant health, states the study.
Immigrants arriving in Canada are generally healthier at the time of their arrival when considering the presence of chronic conditions and overall self-reported health status. The healthy immigrant effect has been found to diminish over time, usually within three years, “possibly due to difficulties adjusting to new environment, stress and/or adoption of risky health behaviours.” However, there were differences by immigrant category, with a stronger healthy immigrant effect found in those admitted through economic class versus that found in refugees.
In Canada immigrants are selected through a point system which can partially explain the healthy immigrant effect. Favouring individuals with higher human capital such as education and language skills, along with systematic selection through medical screening tests, are big factors contributing to the effect.
Those deemed to be expected to cause excessive demand on the health care system were denied immigration status as set out in the 1976 Immigration Act. Later amended in 2002, the Immigrant and Refugee Protection Act set out categories that would exempt immigrants from this such as refugees.
While only about 0.3 per cent of applicants were deemed inadmissible to Canada for health reasons, the number of potential immigrants who didn’t apply as a result of needing a medical screening is not known.
This is the first study to link the Canadian Community Health Survey to the Longitudinal Immigration Database.
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