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Thesis Defence: Mexican Migrant Agricultural Workers’ Experiences of the Public Health Measures During the Covid-19 Pandemic in the Okanagan

November 9, 2023 at 11:00 am - 2:00 pm

Fernanda Novoa, supervised by Dr. Joan Bottorff, will defend their thesis titled “Mexican Migrant Agricultural Workers’ Experiences of the Public Health Measures During the Covid-19 Pandemic in the Okanagan” in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies.

An abstract for Fernanda Novoa’s thesis is included below.

Defences are open to all members of the campus community as well as the general public. Registration is not required for in person defences.


Migrant agricultural workers (MAWs) play a key role in ensuring Canadian food security, with nearly half of these workers coming from Mexico. Extensive research reveals that MAWs in Canada face numerous barriers to access healthcare and face a high risk of health inequities, including substandard housing and hazardous working conditions. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated many of these health inequities, leading to some of the largest COVID-19 outbreaks outside long-term care facilities in Canada, along with the reported deaths of nine MAWs. Despite these critical issues, there is limited research exploring Mexican MAWs’ barriers, facilitators and adverse effects associated with the pandemic response and its public health measures (PHM). To address this gap, this study focused on Mexican MAWs in the Okanagan region. The study employs community-based research using an interpretive description methodology and is guided by an intersectionality lens. The overarching question is as follows: What are the experiences of Mexican MAWs with PHM during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Okanagan region? Data were collected through field notes taken during volunteer work and individual semi-structured interviews with 14 Mexican MAWs, two healthcare professionals, and three support individuals. Interview transcripts and field notes were coded and subjected to thematic analysis using the NVivo software. Results of this study describe how pandemic responses failed to protect MAWs and to address the precarious conditions of Mexican MAWs, exacerbating avoidable inequities. The profound influence of deeply rooted structural factors that underpinned and perpetuated the health inequities experienced by Mexican MAWs throughout the pandemic are detailed as well as the invaluable role of community-based organizations in serving as crucial support for Mexican MAWs, and their significance as indispensable partners and pivotal allies to health authorities during times of crisis. These findings contribute to advancing knowledge and informing policy recommendations to address health inequities faced by Mexican MAWs, particularly in pandemic contexts, and add to growing calls for comprehensive policy reform of the Seasonal Workers Agricultural Program (SWAP).


November 9, 2023
11:00 am - 2:00 pm


Engineering, Management, and Education Building (EME)
1137 Alumni Ave
Kelowna, BC V1V 1V7 Canada
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Additional Info

Room Number
Registration/RSVP Required
Event Type
Thesis Defence
Arts and Humanities, Health, Research and Innovation
Alumni, Community, Faculty, Staff, Families, Partners and Industry, Students, Postdoctoral Fellows and Research Associates