This study aimed to investigate differences in work disability duration among immigrants (categorized as economic, family member or refugee/other classification upon arrival to Canada) compared to Canadian-born workers with a work-related injury in British Columbia. Immigrants and Canadian-born workers were identified from linked immigration records with workers’ compensation claims for work-related back strain, connective tissue, concussion and fracture injuries requiring at least one paid day of work disability benefits between 2009 to 2015. Quantile regression investigated the relationship between immigration classification and predicted work disability days (defined from injury date to end of compensation claim, up to 365 days) and modeled at the 25th, 50th and 75th percentile of the distribution of the disability days. With a few exceptions, immigrants experienced greater predicted disability days compared to Canadian-born workers within the same injury cohort. The largest differences were observed for family and refugee/other immigrant classification workers, and, in particular, for women within these classifications, compared to Canadian-born workers. For example, at the 50th percentile of the distribution of disability days, we observed a difference of 34.1 days longer for refugee/other women in the concussion cohort and a difference of 27.5 days longer for family classification women in the fracture cohort. Economic immigrants had comparable disability days with Canadian-born workers, especially at the 25th and 50th percentiles of the distribution. Immigrant workers’ longer disability durations may be a result of more severe injuries or challenges navigating the workers’ compensation system with delays in seeking disability benefits and rehabilitation services. Differences by immigrant classification speak to vulnerabilities or inequities upon arrival in Canada that persist after entry to the workforce and warrant further investigation for early mitigation strategies.
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