Lindsay Larios

Ph.D, MSW | Political Science

View my Work

About Me

I am currently SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Guelph and an incoming assistant professor at the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Social Work. I hold a PhD from the Department of Political Science at Concordia University, specializing in public policy, a Master of Social Work from McGill University, and a background in community-engaged research. As an interdisciplinary critical policy scholar, my research focuses on questions related to citizenship, justice, and human rights by applying a reproductive justice framework to the Canadian immigration context. My most recent work focuses on the politics of pregnancy and childbirth and precarious migration as an issue of reproductive justice. Broadly, I am committed pursuing a community-engaged research program that illuminates the gendered and racialized dimensions of our political knowledge and its implications for citizenship and social justice.


Pregnant & Precarious: Canadian Immigration through the Lens of Reproductive Justice

This project examines the ways in which policy shapes the experiences of precarious status pregnant migrants living in Montreal, QC through the lens of reproductive justice.

In a context where migration has become a contentious global and national issue, and maternal health and reproductive rights continue to be leading priorities for the Canadian state, there is a disconnect between the ideals of Canadian exceptionalism and the discourses and policies surrounding reproductive rights for non-citizens. While legal rights protections for non-citizens have generally been expansive in many liberal democratic states, the politics governing reproductive rights, however, present a unique tension. In countries like Canada with jus soli citizenship, supporting a non-citizen who is giving birth is not simply about providing services, it’s also about formal membership. Given this, the reproductive rights of migrants are positioned against national sovereignty. A fuller account of reproductive citizenship as it intersects with immigration status is needed. In particular, there is a need for analysis that resists this positioning and takes seriously the realization of sexual and reproductive autonomy as a global human right.

Using reproductive justice as an analytic lens, this dissertation contributes to our empirical and theoretical knowledge of how reproductive citizenship is experienced by pregnant people with precarious immigration status. Drawing on 24 narrative interviews with temporary status or undocumented women living in Montreal, Canada, 13 key informant interviews with service providers, and a review of relevant policies, this dissertation situates the lived experiences of pregnant precarious status migrants within Canadian immigration and reproductive politics. This analysis reveals how neoliberal notions of choice and the racialized and gendered practices of nation-building intersect in the lives of migrant pregnant people and argues that immigration status is barrier to reproductive justice. In particular, narrative interviews showed how immigration and reproduction strategies are often co-produced; however, who can access these strategies and how they are received when they do is shaped by nationality and highly racialized. Precarious immigration programs are not amenable to the needs of pregnant people, such that migration management on the part of the state is experienced as reproductive management in the lives of precarious status migrants. Specifically, they face challenges maintaining their status and accessing basic public services and protections as they navigate pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood.

This work was completed in partial fulfillment of my PhD at Concordia University and was funded through a SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship.

Near and far, with heart and hands: The impact of care work in the context of refugee policy and settlement

My Master’s research at McGill University’s School of Social Work (2015) examined the intersection of care and Canadian immigration policy in the lives of refugee women as they negotiate various caregiving roles.

Canadian immigration policies show clear preference for economic immigration over more care-based immigration programs, such that some immigrants are constructed as contributing to society and others as dependent. Refugee women, who are more likely to be caregivers and less likely to be employed outside the home, are constructed primarily as care receivers. The value of their carework in their homes, in their communities, and transnationally is ignored. The ethics of care framework, together with scholarship emerging on carework, indicate that carework has been unjustly devalued in society. In order to better understand these dynamics, a thematic analysis of in-depth interviews with six women who migrated to Canada as refugees was conducted. These interviews show that refugee women engage in meaningful carework that contributes positively to the lives of those around them, demonstrating their own resiliency and agency. Canadian policies do not adequately recognize the value of care activities, and therefore their contributions go unrecognized and undervalued. If the true benefits and value of care were recognized, this would have an impact on Canadian immigration policy and refugee women, as caregivers, would be recognized as valuable and contributing members of society.

This work was completed in partial fulfillment of my Master of Social Work at McGill University.

From 2016 to the present, I have been a team member of a SSHRC-funded multi-disciplinary research team (Principle investigators: Shannon Hebblethwaite, Stephanie Paterson, Dawn Trussell), based out of Concordia and Brock Universities, exploring the nexus of leisure and public policy during the transition to motherhood. Using a longitudinal design, we are interviewing 30 mothers from Montreal, QC and Toronto, ON at four time points (third-trimester, 3-months, 12-months, and 18-months post-birth). Our research is guided by the following questions: How do women experience leisure during the transition to motherhood? How are programs and policies, or lack thereof, aimed at facilitating the leisure experienced during this process? What role do leisure and the state play in the construction of mothers' identities within this context? The aim of this work is to reveal the ways in which leisure and related policies support or restrict understandings of motherhood, and in particular how policy comes to shape leisure and well-being during this transition.

Placement and recruitment agencies: Silent partners in migrant employment

From 2015 to 2018, I was a member of a SSHRC-funded research team (Principle investigators: Dr. Jill Hanley & Dr. Paul Eid), based out of McGill University, examining the role of third-party placement and recruitment agencies on the lives and employment trajectories of immigrant workers in Montreal, Quebec.

Within Canada, private, for-profit placement and recruitment agencies act an important intermediary in the international labour market and access to employment for a wide range of workers within Canada. There is growing concern that the central role of agencies may lead to social and labour rights abuses, especially for immigrant workers. The project took a longitudinal approach to studying these dynamics by interviewing 42 (im)migrant workers nine times over three years at four-month intervals. As well as a detailed case file analysis of files from two partnering organizations – the Immigrant Workers Centre and PINAY QUEBEC – was done in order to track common complaints and issues raised by workers to these migrant-serving organizations.

Artist: Nikki Küntzle



Abji, S. & Larios, L. (2020) Migrant justice as reproductive justice: Birthright citizenship and the politics of immigration detention for pregnant women in Canada. Citizenship Studies, Special Issue: Abolishing detention: Bridging prison and migrant justice. DOI: 10.1080/13621025.2020.1859186

This research develops an analytical framework for theorizing the lived experiences of pregnant women in immigration detention, and then applies this framework in considering possibilities for transforming citizenship and the allocation of rights. We focus on the Canadian case, examining the 2.5-year detention of a refugee claimant who was detained while 3 months pregnant. In line with feminist intersectional and critical migration scholars, we argue that immigration detention is a form of structural violence against noncitizens that is gendered, raced, and classed. However, our analytical framework extends existing scholarship by centring reproductive justice as a key axis along which the structural violence of noncitizenship is enacted. Our findings are thus critical of reforms to detention that frame pregnant women as biologically vulnerable: we instead argue for a structural understanding of vulnerability that centres reproductive justice as a fundamental component of migrant justice in envisioning a decarceral future.

Paterson, S. & Larios, L. (2020) Emotional Problems: Policymaking and empathy through the lens of transnational motherhood. Critical Social Policy.

In this paper, we explore the role of social empathy in policymaking. Social empathy extends empathy from an interpersonal disposition to the social and political structures that inform policy processes and outcomes. Empathy requires an emotional understanding of phenomena, which we suggest can be cultivated through an emotional analysis of policy, and can result in more socially just outcomes. Building on social work and emotional policy analysis research, we present a framework for both nurturing and applying empathy in policy contexts, which is then applied to the case of Canada’s Caregiver Program. We demonstrate how emotional discourse analysis exposes the various subject positions of both the analyst and policy subjects, implicating disciplinary forces that hinder connection between actors. Once such forces are illuminated, policymakers can reconfigure policy in more socially just ways. We thus emphasize the transformative potential of fostering empathy in and through policymaking.

Hanley, J., Larios, L., Ricard-Guay, A., Meloni, F. & Rousseau, C. (2020) Pregnant & undocumented: Taking work into account as a social determinant of health. International Journal of Migration, Health & Social Care.

Purpose—It is well understood that women’s work situations are critical to their well-being during pregnancy and in terms of potential risks to the fetus. It has also long been known that undocumented women workers face particularly difficult work conditions and being undocumented precludes access to key social benefits (i.e. public health insurance, paid maternity leave, child benefits and subsidized daycare) that support pregnant women and new mothers. Yet, this paper aims to write about the intersection of undocumented women’s pregnancy with work experiences.

Design/methodology/approach—Drawing on the results of a broader qualitative study that was focused on access to healthcare for undocumented (and therefore, uninsured) women who were pregnant and gave birth in Montreal, Canada, the authors begin this paper with a review of the relevant literature for this topic related to the work conditions of undocumented women, how work exacerbates barriers to accessing healthcare and the resulting health outcomes, particularly in relation to pregnancy. The authors highlight the social determinants of health human rights framework (Solar and Irwin, 2010), before presenting methodology. In conclusion, the authors discuss how an understanding of undocumented women’s work situations sheds light on their pregnancy experiences.

Findings—The authors then present participants’ work conditions before becoming pregnant, working conditions while pregnant and employment options and pressures after giving birth.

Originality/value—The authors emphasize that attention to undocumented pregnant women’s work situations might help health and social service practitioners to better serve their needs at this critical point in a woman’s life and at the beginning of the life of their children, born as full citizens.

Larios, L., Hanley, J. Salamanca Cardona, M., Henaway, M. Dwaikat Shaer, N. & Ben Soltane, S. (2020). Engaging migrant careworkers: examining cases of exploitation by recruitment agencies in Quebec, Canada. International Journal of Migration and Border Studies 6(1/2), pp. 138-157. DOI: 10.1504/IJMBS.2020.10030063.

Private, for-profit recruitment and employment agencies are key intermediaries connecting migrant workers from abroad to employers in Canada. Despite this, there is a lack of effective regulation of recruitment agencies by the Canadian federal and provincial governments. The objective of this article is to provide a snapshot of the problem, based on the empirical analysis of the casework of one community organization in Montreal, PINAY, highlighting the multiple compounding effects of this type of exploitation and to highlight the role that community-based organizations play in supporting migrant workers faced with them. Our analysis identifies three types of exploitation: exploitation of financial need, exploitation of immigration precarity, and exploitation of relationships. We conclude the article by discussing community level responses to the exploitation migrant works face in their interactions with recruitment agencies and reflect upon the implications of Quebec’s recent amendment of its Labour Standards.

Hanley, J, Salamanca Cardona, M. Henaway, M., Larios, L., Dwaikat Shaer, N., Ben Soltane, S., Eid, P. (2018). Transportation and temp agency work: Risks and opportunities for migrant workers. Cahiers géographiques du Québec, Thématique : La droit à la ville : les immigrants dans l’espace urbain. 62(177) : 369-481.

Access to transportation has long been recognized as key to people’s employment outcomes. Being able to get to work affordably, safely and on time makes all the difference in terms of job security and satisfaction. Recently, the rise of temporary placement agencies, especially as a door of entry into the labour market for many newcomers to Canada, raises new questions. In this article, we present the findings of a 3-year longitudinal study that followed 42 (im)migrant temp agency workers in 5 sectors to explore the trajectory of their experiences. We analyze the role of transportation within their employment and make the argument that access to transportation—and especially the lack of it—is an important factor in temp agencies’ control and exploitation of workers. At the same time, those seeking to organize workers can look to the moment of transportation to and from work as an opportunity.

Larios, L. (2019). Near and far, with heart and hands: Carework in the context of refugee settlement in Canada. International Journal of Care and Caring 3(2): 263-278. DOI: 10.1332/239788219X15473079319291

Within immigration politics, refugee women are often constructed as care receivers, and the value of their care work in their homes, in their communities and transnationally is absent from immigration politics. The research explores how refugee women understand and situate their relational identity, the meaning of their caring actions and how this is shaped by their relative position within Canadian society. The goal of this analysis is to highlight the importance of care work and how it is shaped by and reproduces inequalities, and to offer counter-narratives to those that have emerged within immigration politics on the contributions of refugee women to Canadian society.

Paquet, M. & Larios, L. (2018). Venue shopping and legitimacy: Making sense of Harper’s immigration record. Canadian Journal of Political Science 51(18): 817-836 DOI: 10.1017/S0008423918000331

Canadian immigration policies went through numerous changes under the Conservative party leadership of Stephen Harper from 2006 to 2015. This article provides an empirical account of immigration policy change during this era and suggests that of state-centred venue shopping can effectively account for the Harper's immigration record. In particular, it documents the ways in which immigration policies have expanded into international and regional venues, opened new venues to non-state actors, further decentralized into subnational venues and reinvested into traditional administrative and executive venues for policy making. The analysis suggests that the redeployment of the state into new and expanding venues aims to demonstrate state capacity and legitimacy as a nodal actor in immigration policy.

Hanley, J. Larios, L., Salamanca Cardona, M. Henaway, M., Dwaikat Shaer, N., Ben Soltane, S. & Eid, P. (2017). Gender dynamics of temporary placement agency work: (Im)migrants, know your place! Canadian Diversity 14(2), pp. 37-42.

For newcomers to Canada, placement agencies (or temp agencies) are a common path into a labour market that is difficult to access. It is widely documented that temp agencies are linked to precarious work conditions, dangerous occupational health conditions, racialized and gendered division of labour, and the exploitation of precarious immigration statuses. Our study shows that gender plays out strongly in (im)migrants’ experiences of temp agency work. Regardless of their previous education or experiences it is their immigration status, race and gender that seemed to dictate the types of work available to them. We discuss five elements of workers’ experiences that were strongly shaped by gender: their sectors of work; their tasks within the workplace; gender-normative bullying; sexual harassment and assault; and their management of work-life balance.

Hanley, J., Larios, L., & Koo, J.-H. (2017). Does Canada care about migrant caregivers? Implications under the reformed Caregiver Program. Canadian Ethnic Studies 29(2): 121-140. DOI: 10.1353/ces.2017.0015

Domestic and caregiving work have been part of the Canadian fabric since our colonial founding and have long represented one of the most easily accessible routes for migration open to women. Until very recently the Live-In Caregiver Program (LCP) operated as the primary program in Canada facilitating this labour migration. While the LCP has been replaced by the Caregiver Program (CP), it has yet to be determined how these changes will impact migrant caregivers. We suggest that many lessons can be drawn from our knowledge of migrant caregivers’ experiences under the LCP that can help us understand the dynamics of new immigration policies. Using the global care chain framework, we consider here whether Canada’s caregiver migration policy demonstrates a concern for the wellbeing of migrant caregivers as workers, as family members and as citizens. Our analysis suggests that the CP does not adequately address the concerns raised through the global care chain critique. Rather, the CP continues and deepens the trend of using immigration policy to hold people in substandard employment, with very little care for migrant caregivers whether in terms of their labour rights, their family relationships or their sense of belonging and citizenship.

Book Chapters

Larios, L. (2020). ‘Because we are mothers’: The invisibility of migrant mother care labour in the Canadian context. In K. Levasseur, S. Paterson, & L. Turnbull (eds.), Mothering and Welfare: Depriving, Surviving, Thriving. Bradford, ON: Demeter Press.

Policy Reports

PINAY Quebec (2016). Ineffective regulation of recruitment agencies in Quebec: Experiences and perspectives of Live-in Caregivers. Montreal, QC: PINAY Quebec.

Larios, L., Lyle, M., Paille, M. & Smith, M. (2013). Investigating access to health and social services for residents of Manitoba Housing. Winnipeg, MB: Manitoba Centre for Health Policy.


Gaucher, M. & Larios, L. (2020, January 17). Birth tourism and the demonizing of pregnant migrant women. Policy Options.


Upcoming Presentations

“Intersections of migrant and reproductive justice: Immigration status as a barrier to perinatal care in the Canadian context.” Paper presentation at the Canadian Political Science Association (CPSA) Conference. June 7-10, 2021.

"Precarious labour: Examining gaps in employment protections for pregnant non-citizen workers in Canada." Paper presentation at the Law and Society Association Conference. May 27-30, 2021.

"Precarious labour: Examining gaps in employment protections for pregnant non-citizen workers in Canada." Paper presentation at the Law and Society Association Conference. May 27-30, 2021.

Selected past Presentations

“Reproductive precarity: Immigration status as structural violence for pregnant migrants in Canada.” Paper presentation at the Canadian Political Science Association (CPSA) Conference. Western University, London, ON. June 2-4, 2020.

*Cancelled due to COVID-19

“Intersectional feminism, equality, and the everyday: Policy, practice, and activism/action.” Panelist at the Canadian Political Science Association (CPSA) Conference. Western University, London, ON. June 2-4.

*Cancelled due to COVID-19

“Mothering in precarity: Unpacking employment barriers for migrant mothers.” Paper presentation at the Canadian Association for Social Work Education (CASWE) Conference. Western University, London, ON. June 1-4.

*Cancelled due to COVID-19

“(Re)producing precarity: Impacts of the ‘passport baby’ narrative on access to health care for migrant women.” Protecting birthright citizenship in Canada. Presented at Metropolis Canada Conference. Winnipeg, MB. March 19-21, 2020.

*Cancelled due to COVID-19

Re-imagining immigration through the ethics of care: Reproductive justice and precarious status migration in Canada.” Paper presentation at the International Conference on Public Policy (ICPP4). Concordia University, Montreal, QC. June 26-28, 2019; Paper presentation at the Canadian Political Science Association (CPSA) Conference. University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC. June 4-6, 2019.

Pregnancy without permanency: A critical feminist look at reproductive justice for migrant women in Canada.” Paper presentation at the International Conference on Public Policy (ICPP4). Concordia University, Montreal, QC. June 26-28, 2019; Paper presentation at the Canadian Associations for Social Work Education (CASWE) Conference. University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC. June 3-6, 2019.

Feministing in political science: Stories from the front lines. Panelist at the Canadian Political Science Association (CPSA) Conference. University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC. June 4-6, 2019.

“Emotional States: Transnational motherhood, policymaking, and the politics of empathy in Canada.” Paper presentation at the Canadian Political Science Association (CPSA) Conference. University of Regina, Regina, SK. May 30-June 1, 2018. With Stephanie Paterson.

“Making sense of Harper’s immigration legacy.” Paper presentation at the Canadian Political Science Association (CPSA) Conference. Ryerson University, Toronto, ON. May 30-June 1, 2017. With Mireille Paquet.

“Consent, Circumvent, or Contest? The choices of (im)migrant agency workers facing labour violations in Montreal. Paper presentation at the Canadian Association for the Study of International Development (CASID) Conference. Ryerson University, Toronto, ON. May 30-June 1, 2017. With Jill Hanley.

“Near and far, with heart and hands: The impact and value of carework in the context of refugee policy and settlement.” Paper presentation at the Canadian Association for Refugee and Forced Migration (CARFMS) Conference. University of Victoria, Victoria, BC. May 15-18, 2017.