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Health Profile on Immigrant and Refugee Children and Youth in Canada

Canadian children and youth are culturally and linguistically diverse, bringing many different strengths, attributes and needs to their communities. Overall, children and youth who are recent immigrants fare well in Canada in terms of health status. However, the overall population of immigrant and refugee children and youth is not homogeneous - and certain groups of immigrant children and youth fare better than others. Immigrant and refugee children and youth also have unique attributes and needs that our systems should recognize and address. These needs may require specific interventions such as vaccinations or screening tests to prevent diseases. They may require increased community, professional and public awareness regarding issues that may arise due to cultural or medical ‘discordance’. Discordance can include differences in values, culture, parental expectations, preventative health care, lifestyle or other factors.

This module describes immigrant and refugee children and youth up to 24 years of age in Canada and their overall health status. It specifically identifies priority preventable conditions and diseases among immigrant and refugee children and youth and explores the question of cultural discordance and how this might influence their health and well-being.


Suggested Citation and Contributors

Suggested Citation and Contributors

This short section includes information about how to cite this module and a list of the module contributors.

Section 1: Immigrant and Refugee Children and Youth in Canada

Section 1: Immigrant and Refugee Children and Youth in Canada

A number of factors influence the lives that immigrant and refugee children and youth will lead in Canada. Among these are their country of origin, their reason for emigrating, the location of their new home in Canada, and their age upon arrival. This section explores these factors and illustrates the diversity of children and youth who are new to Canada.

Section 2: General Health Status of Immigrant Children and Youth

Section 2: General Health Status of Immigrant Children and Youth

Examining the health status of immigrant children and youth is complex. Their health is influenced by many factors − biology; genetics; their experience and living conditions in their home country; their physical, social, and economic living conditions in Canada; and their access to services, including health and resettlement services. This section explores the general health status of immigrant children and youth in Canada using a variety of indicators.

Section 3: Priority Health Conditions Among Immigrant Children and Youth

Section 3: Priority Health Conditions Among Immigrant Children and Youth

The data in section 2 show that overall, the health of immigrant children and youth in Canada is on par or slightly better than that of their Canadian born counterparts. However, within the overall population of immigrant children and youth, certain sub-groups are at increased risk of various threats to their health and well-being. The prevalence of disease differs with exposure, migration patterns, living conditions, and genetic predispositions. The priority health conditions among immigrant children and youth were based on the evidence-based Canadian Immigrant Health Guidelines.

Section 4: Immigrant Children and Youth – Cultural Discordance

Section 4: Immigrant Children and Youth – Cultural Discordance

This section describes cultural discordance - the perceived conflict between a child’s or youth’s culture of origin and the Canadian culture into which he or she has been immersed. It also describes the various repercussions that children and youth may face as a result of this discordance.

Section 5: Summary

Section 5: Summary

This section briefly summarizes some of the challenges and priority health conditions facing children, youth and families new to Canada.



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