March 19, 2008


Editors: A photo of Ivy Bourgeault can be found at

Immigrants may be the solution to Canada's health care crisis

Hamilton, ON - An international study into immigrant health-care professionals may hold the solution to Canada’s health care crisis.

“People talk about Canada’s aging population and express concern about the lack of health care providers for the elderly but one of the problems is that we may have some difficulties recruiting and retaining people who are Canadian into this field,” says Ivy Bourgeault, Canada Research Chair in Comparative Health Labor Policy and lead researcher of the study. “As a solution, some countries are looking towards migrant or immigrant workers to fill the demands for elder care.”

The collaborative research study between McMaster and universities in the United States, United Kingdom and Ireland aims to study the experiences of immigrant health-care workers, their employers and elderly persons.  These are neglected topics in the both the research and policy literatures. This kind of information will help to develop coordinated policies to meet health-care needs and to better deploy the skills of immigrant workers.

 “Some have raised issues regarding the quality of care received from immigrant workers,” says Bourgeault. “For example, for some immigrant groups, they have a higher respect for the elderly than in Canadian society which may translate into better care. Conversely, some have raised concerns surrounding language barriers and comprehension among elderly clients. We need to make sure the quality of care and safety needs are being met. “

Meanwhile, the study is looking for participants to share their views and experiences of immigrating and working in the long-term and home care sectors in Canada. Participants will answer largely open-ended questions regarding their views and experiences of migrating to Canada and their experiences here. The interview will take approximately 60 minutes. Participants will receive a $25 honorarium for their time.

Employers are being encouraged to participate in either a telephone interview (20 minutes) or a short 10 minute online questionnaire about their experiences employing immigrant care workers

Please visit for more information.

McMaster University, a world-renowned, research-intensive university, fosters a culture of innovation, and a commitment to discovery and learning in teaching, research and scholarship. Based in Hamilton, the University, one of only four Canadian universities to be listed on the Top 100 universities in the world, has a student population of more than 23,000, and an alumni population of more than 130,000 in 128 countries.


For more information, please contact:


Ivy Bourgeault

Associate Professor

Health, Aging, & Society

Faculty of Social Sciences

905-525-9140 ext. 23832


Jane Christmas

Manager, Public & Media Relations

McMaster University

905-525-9140 ext. 27988