Exploring the Latest Study on “Occupational Portrait of A Pandemic Workforce: Latin Americans in the Health and the Sales & Services Sectors of Canada”

By Nicole Garcia

The COVID-19 pandemic has left a profound mark on the Canadian workforce, particularly impacting Latin American laborers in the Health and Sales & Services sectors. A groundbreaking study conducted by Fernando Mata, from the School of Sociological and Anthropological Studies at the University of Ottawa, meticulously examines the occupational profile of these workers and their invaluable contributions to the Canadian economy amidst the pandemic1.

Mata’s research had its crosshairs fixed on full-time, full-year employees aged 25 to 64, who received employment income in 2015. Within these confines, the Health and Sales & Services sectors played host to 5.5 thousand and 24.3 thousand individuals, respectively1.

Critical Roles in Health and Sales & Services Sectors

The Health and Sales & Services sectors have emerged as crucial pillars of Canada’s health protection and economic stability during the ongoing pandemic. The Health sector encompasses jobs that are vital in providing healthcare services directly to patients, the general public, and offering support to professional and technical staff in the healthcare field. On the other hand, the Sales and Services sector spans a wide spectrum of occupations, including sales, personal and protective services, as well as those associated with the hospitality and tourism industries. Workers in these sectors now face escalated health risks due to being designated as “key” or “essential” during various phases of the pandemic1.

Jobs That Define the Latin American Workforce

This comprehensive study unveils striking revelations regarding the occupational landscape of Latin American workers in Canada. In the Health sector, nursing aides take center stage, while in the Sales & Services sector, janitorial roles (predominantly for males) and light or specialized cleaners (mainly for females) emerge as the most typical roles. However, these positions also entail heightened health risks, making Latin American workers particularly vulnerable during a pandemic, given their proximity to colleagues and the general public1.

Diversity of Latin American Workforce

The Latin American workforce in Canada is characterized by its diversity in terms of gender, immigrant status, period of residence, and ethnic origins. In the Health sector, female participation surpasses that of males, regardless of immigrant status and length of residence in Canada. Notably, Canadian-born Latin Americans have a significantly higher proportion of women (9.9%) who have found occupational niches in this sector compared to men (2.9%). The study also identifies Hispanic, Nicaraguan, and Spanish ethnic backgrounds as having the highest participation rates in the Health sector. In the Sales & Services sector, overall participation is higher than in the Health sector, and Canadian-born Latin American males and females exhibit nearly equal participation rates, at 22.7% and 24.3% respectively. However, this sector takes on particular economic importance for recently arrived immigrants, particularly females, with over a third (34.9%) of female workers with less than five years of residence engaging in these types of occupations. Central Americans are among the most participatory groups in both sectors1.

Informing Policy Decisions and Support Strategies

Mata’s thorough research is a valuable resource for policymakers and employers, offering insights into the diverse participation among Latin American workers in Canada. These insights can be instrumental in crafting targeted strategies to support these workers, influencing informed policy decisions in areas such as immigration, labor, and public health, which are of paramount importance during the pandemic and beyond1.

Fernando Mata’s work, set against the backdrop of a rapidly evolving workforce grappling with the challenges of the pandemic, illuminates a path forward for the Latin American community in Canada.

Acknowledgment of Intellectual Property:

In the preparation of this article, the information provided by Fernando Mata’s research was consulted extensively. The study is attributed to Fernando Mata, and the citation is as follows:
Mata, F. (2021, February 28). Occupational Portrait of A Pandemic Workforce: Latin Americans in the Health and the Sales & Services Sectors of Canada. https://doi.org/10.31235/osf.io/b76sp

Newsletter Sign Up

To get our free biweekly newsletter. Receive information about Latin American news in BC and in the world..