In the Fall 2016 Sociology D21 received funding from the University of Toronto's Sesquicentennial Initiative Fund to train students to produce podcasts to present their research funding. The course also partnered with the Canadian Centre for Refugee and Immigrant Health Care to better understand the services provided at the centre and how they inform our understandings of Canadianness.
It is unclear how many uninsured migrants live in Canada. The category includes anyone who does not have access to provincial medical insurance programs. In the case of Ontario, the Ontario Health Insurance Plan provides health care services for any citizens and permanent residents who live in the province. However there are a few exceptions. For instance, new, permanent residents have to wait 3 months to receive access. Furthermore, if anyone has lived abroad for a period of time, they do not automatically receive health insurance and have to abide by the 3 month wait. Any one who has lost or had their health insurance card stole can also face periods of being uninsured. Finally, non-citizens, including refugee claimants, some international students, and undocumented or non-status migrants also may not have access to health insurance. While private insurance is always an option, it's cost is often prohibitive. This means that there are a number of uninsured residents in the province at any point in time.
The Canadian Centre for Refugee and Immigrant Health Care provides health care services for uninsured migrants. It is situated in Scarborough, an area of the City of Toronto that has become an important immigrant gateway.
In collaboration with the CCRIHC and the department of Sociology at UTSC, the project team identified 3 key areas of inquiry:
1. The provision of healthcare services to medically uninsured clients at the CCRIHC
2. Service providers’ perceptions of what it means to
- Be medically uninsured and pregnant
- Have a chronic illness like diabetes and be medically uninsured
- Require immunizations and face being potentially barred from enrolling in K-12 schooling without having proof of those immunizations
- Require mental health access while being medically uninsured
3. How both 1 & 2 influence participants’ perceptions about “Canadianness” and “Canadian values”, given our focus on the Sesquicentennial.
Below is the class with Sumathy Rahunathan, a representative from the clinic, on the day students presented their research findings.
Method- Telling Stories
Students received training in qualitative research methods, focusing on interviewing. They also participated in two storytelling and production workshops led by Kristiana Clemens, a communicator, facilitator and broadcaster with more than two decades of experience producing content and training volunteers for campus and community radio. As a journalist, she has produced coverage of grassroots movements from coast to coast. She also serves as the president of the Community Media Advocacy Centre and plays keyboards for the band Deep Sixed. Fellow student and Underground editor Sharine Taylor also shared her experience producing podcasts.
Finally, given the UTSC department of Sociology committment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's recommendations, students also learned about the importance of Scarborough for Indigenous communities that inhabit the land and the effects on those communities thorugh settler colonialism and immigration. Part of that discussion invovled a focus on landmarks and routes like the Toronto Passage and Dawes Crossing a landmark at Dawes Rd. and Victoria Park Avenue. Below is Chantae Thompson visiting Dawes Crossing.
Thus the course focused on telling a layered story about Scarborough, centering uninsured migrants.
Above, taken by Sumathy Rahunathan. From left to right, top row: Kunal Mishra, Sahana Easwaralingam, Sarah Moffat, Yvonne Ruan, Remere Warner, Tyler Dzingala, Chantae Thompson, Iram Rafique, Shaina Madden, Adam Chothia. Bottom row: Paloma Villegas, Paria Asadbikli, Ayaa Mohamad, Tyson Li, Azeem Shah and Nastaran Shirazi.
Middle: clockwise from the top: Kunal Mishra, Sahana Easwaralingam, Sarah Moffat, Yvonne Ruan, Remere Warner, Chantae Thompson, Tyler Dzingala, Iram Rafique, Shaina Madden, Adam Chothia, Nastaran Shirazi, Azeem Shah, Tyson Li, Ayaa Mohamad, Paria Asadbikli, Sumathy Rahunathan and Paloma Villegas.
Below: Chantae Thompson.