Reducing barriers to healthcare access for immigrant and refugees communities

Presenter: Norma Hannant, Social Worker at the New Beginnings Refugee Clinic, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Date: December 12th, 2018

This webinar was co-hosted by the Immigrant and Refugee Mental Health Project and the Health Equity Impact Assessment.



Newcomers face many challenges while adapting to their new home and navigating systemic barriers. These post-migration stressors significantly impact their wellbeing. Refugees tend to be more vulnerable to poorer health outcomes upon arrival than immigrants as a result of several factors, including: needing to flee their homes due to persecution, war or violence; having lived in refugee camps; and being forced to separate from family. In addition, refugees face barriers to accessing needed healthcare services in Canada, such as immigration status, poverty, competing priorities, lack of information on services, and cultural and linguistic barriers.

In this webinar, we will explore:

  • how immigrants and refugees can be negatively impacted, often inadvertently, when interacting with the healthcare system 
  • how healthcare providers can help mitigate these barriers to enhance health equity to newcomer populations.

Presenter biography

Norma Hannant, Social Worker at the New Beginnings Refugee Clinic, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Norma provides individual and group counseling, and advocacy, as well as referrals to community supports. She has been working in the mental health sector for the past 17 years including in a community health centre, in outpatient and inpatient psychiatric settings, in child and family organizations, and in education services. She has an undergraduate degree from the University of Waterloo, majoring in Spanish. Norma received her Masters of Social Work degree from the University of Toronto.

Organization: CAMH's New Beginnings Clinic provides psychiatric consultation and possible brief culturally-sensitive interventions to newly arrived refugees, as well as case consultation for care providers. CAMH and the Crossroads Clinic at Women’s College Hospital have been working together to find ways to respond to the mental health needs of Syrian newcomers during and after the resettlement surge. As a result, CAMH launched the New Beginnings Clinic in March 2016. While this service was developed in response to the resettlement surge of Syrian people, services are not restricted to this group and are available to all refugees in their first two years in Toronto. 

Norma Hannant photo