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Newcomer Health Project

Category(s): Health
Status: Active
Principal: Ted McDonald
Project Number: P0107
Year Approved: 2023

Project Description

Identifying vulnerable populations within a community and highlighting barriers to achieving excellent health is one of Public Health’s key functions. The recently launched New Brunswick Health Plan identifies an urgent need to increase access to timely primary care for all residents. Across New Brunswick there is a variety of different access needs unique to each region. In New Brunswick, there is no targeted government service dedicated to newcomer health including international students.

Accessing healthcare in an incorrect setting is costly: costly to the healthcare system as the cost for ED visits for non-urgent care is high, and costly for the patient as there are systemic delays in the delivery of healthcare. Furthermore, EDs are not resourced to fully address the time requirements for language translation and cultural requirements. The average cost of a Saint John ED visit is $323.91 for those with Medicare. For an uninsured patient, the cost of a primary care after -hours visit is $150 prior to the provision of care and the average cost of an ED visit for those uninsured is $626.

As well, few university campuses offer dedicated health clinic access specifically for international students. Most international students studying at smaller institutions seek health care at after-hour clinics and emergency departments (EDs). Furthermore, the desire to retain international students following their graduation and encourage their retention in NB is more likely to succeed if their health needs are met.

The four Atlantic member provinces of the Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP) have committed to increasing immigration, particularly from the North African and Middle Eastern regions. As a result, there will be an increasing demand on NB’s health care system to manage their healthcare requirements as well as screen for diseases in the effort to mitigate further deterioration of the newcomer’s health status and to decrease the exposure of communicable disease to the community. Through NB’s population growth strategy, the province aims to accept 7,500 more immigrants per year until 2024.

In New Brunswick, the number of incoming immigrants has increased six-fold in the last two decades. Lower utilization of health care by immigrants to Canada is associated with the deteriorating health of individual immigrants as well as increased costs to the health care system.

In order for NB to provide timely and effective healthcare to newcomers, and by extension helping to ensure their successful integration into New Brunswick, it is important to first understand their healthcare needs and utilization patterns. Once this is understood, potential solutions for improving such health outcomes and decreasing the costs associated with achieving such outcomes can be considered.

This project will describe the newcomer population across New Brunswick and compare healthcare utilization patterns between newcomers and Canadian born residents of New Brunswick to gain insight into the healthcare needs of newcomers.

Read the report: