Published: | Canada

(Un)Discussed: Navigating and Accessing Health Care Services for (Tamil) Newcomers

Policymakers need to bridge the gap that exists between the health care services offered to newcomers - negligence to immigrant health in Canada.

Adjusting to a new country as a Tamil newcomer in itself can be overwhelming and a stressful process. In addition to this, understanding how our Canadian healthcare system operates and seeking the necessary programs and/or services associated with it can be challenging – it's difficult navigating the system.

There is an inequity in access to (and other parts of developed countries) healthcare services amongst newcomers, specifically children and youth. Very little policies and research are enforced to ensure that Tamil newcomers (and newcomers alone) have equal access to healthcare services. Access to quality healthcare is essential in maintaining the health of newcomers. The minimal studies that have been conducted show that newcomers are less likely to use primary and preventive care because it is difficult for them to access it - this can be for reasons such as language barriers, the lack of familiarity of the healthcare system and information.

Although the three levels of government in Canada have agencies and programs in place to eradicate this issue; there continues to be a lack of sporadic processes to measure the disparity of healthcare access amongst newcomers.

Effective measures need to be taken to reduce this by ensuring current policies and future programs and/or services are meeting its mandate towards its people (services need to be monitored to ensure that the funds allocated to support newcomers in accessing healthcare are being delivered effectively). Government bodies and non-profit organizations are jointly accountable in coordinating and promoting continuous efficiency in providing/delivering healthcare services amongst marginalized groups such as newcomers. In addition, discussions and awareness needs to circulated so the public is aware of such issues. 

The link below is an evaluation research article that briefly discusses the issue (one of the very minimal research conducted):

http://epe.lac-bac.gc.ca/100/200/301/pco-bcp/commissions-ef/future_health_care-ef/discussion_paper-e/no40/40_e.pdf

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