Survey Uncovers Impact of COVID-19 on Recent Immigrants

by The New Brunswick Multicultural Council
January 5, 2021

The New Brunswick Multicultural Council (NBMC) has begun analyzing data from its fall 2020 survey on the impacts of COVID-19 on recent immigrants in New Brunswick. The preliminary data shows that the pandemic has had a significant impact on the mental health and financial situation of the newcomer population. Fourteen percent of respondents reported permanent job loss due to the pandemic. 

We conducted this survey because of the need for us to understand how COVID-19 has impacted the lives of immigrants in our communities,” said Moncef Lakouas, President of NBMC. “We knew the pandemic would have disproportionately negative impacts on vulnerable communities like recent immigrants. The data is telling us that we need to do more collectively to support newcomers during this difficult time,” he continued. 

In addition to the financial impacts, the survey exposed the negative mental health implications the pandemic has caused. Fifty-four percent of respondents reported that the pandemic had significant negative impacts on their mental health. The majority of them noted stress, anxiety, strain on family relationships, and increased loneliness as major areas of concern. 

Moreover, 52% of respondents reported inadequate to no access to sufficient mental health supports. 

The impact this pandemic has had on the mental health of newcomers is alarming,” said Alex Leblanc, Executive Director of NBMC. “Our mental health system currently lacks the capacity to provide appropriate access and support for newcomer populations.  The pandemic has simply exposed and exacerbated an issue that was already there,” LeBlanc added. “We hope these findings become a catalyst for much-needed attention and progress on this aspect of support for newcomers in New Brunswick.

Recent immigrants are also reporting issues with finding a family doctor and access to private health insurance. “Medicare doesn’t cover a lot of costs, for example, medicine. Secondly, (…) a lot of people lack access to specialists due to the shortage of medical care providers. Everyone must have access to healthcare whenever they feel they need it,” one participant outlined. 

Fifty percent of participants reported having no access to a family doctor, and 43% reported having no private health insurance. 

These numbers and experiences are concerning to us at NBMC,” said Lakouas. “If we want newcomers to thrive, we have to provide them with the necessary supports. NBMC will be championing the call for better services and supports so newcomers can emerge from the pandemic ready to continue impacting our communities in a positive way,” he concluded.