Lindsay Larios


Political Science | Social Work

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About Me

I am an 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 and a Master of Social Work from McGill University. I am also a research affiliate with the Centre for Canadian Policy Alternatives and the Centre for Human Rights 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 social justice. My research is informed and grounded in community practice. I am currently a member of the Healthcare for All Manitoba Coalition and sit on the board of directors of the Women’s Health Clinic.


Migrant Reproductive Justice: Experiences of medically uninsured pregnant people in Manitoba, Canada

It is widely acknowledged that access to quality perinatal care is a key component of maternal health and associated with positive long term health outcomes for both birthing person and child. A growing literature reveals the health inequities experienced by pregnant migrants in Canada, especially when medically uninsured. Medically uninsured pregnant people tend to put off accessing prenatal care due to cost, concerns regarding their status, and difficulties navigating the system, resulting in increased health risks for both birthing person and child. Smaller cities, such as Winnipeg and Brandon, host increasing numbers of precarious migrants with barriers to health insurance. There is very little known about how pregnant medically uninsured migrants navigate the Manitoba health system and what their experiences are. As such, this is an exploratory qualitative project that aims to examine the lived experiences of pregnant medically uninsured migrants living in Manitoba.

We aim to understand and document the state of perinatal care for uninsured pregnant people in Manitoba, including the policies, care settings, and actors involved; uncover key gaps and challenges (both formal and informal) to perinatal care for uninsured pregnant people; and examine the wider implications of being medically uninsured for pregnant people, not only on their health, but immigration trajectory, finances, employment, education, and family life.

This ongoing research is funded by a SSHRC Insight Development Grant and is done in partnership with the Manitoba Association of Newcomer Serving Organizations (MANSO).

Alliance for Gender Justice & Migration

I am a member of the National and Manitoba Regional Coordinating Committees for the Alliance for Gender Justice & Migration project, funded via that Feminist Response and Recovery Fund by Women and Gender Equality Canada, and led by the Migrant Workers Centre (British Columbia). This pan-Canadian alliance on women in migration comprised of experts in the field, including academics, service providers and women with lived experience to identify trends and promote policy solutions aimed at ending discrimination against women and gender-diverse migrants in Canada.

Healthcare Access for International Students in Manitoba

This project examines the politics of healthcare access in Manitoba, focusing on the 2018 policy change that left international students in Manitoba ineligible for provincial public health insurance and the ways in which health care access for international students has been framed by different policymakers, advocates, students, and other actors.

Although most provinces and territories provide public health insurance to international students studying full-time and their families, eligibility varies across provinces. Ontario and Manitoba do not provide public coverage for international students at all; Quebec provides coverage to students from countries who have signed on to their Social Security Agreement (primarily European countries) but not to others; Nova Scotia will not cover them until after the first year of their studies; and British Columbia provides access but charges a monthly fee. Those without public insurance are expected to purchase private coverage, often through the university. University plans vary considerably. They are often quite comprehensive but may not always extend to a student’s partner or children and may be costly. Furthermore, private insurance plans often still require the costs of care be paid upfront and reimbursed later and may not provide comprehensive coverage for pre-existing conditions or prenatal and obstetric care. While having to rely on private insurance may not be a barrier to students with stable financial resources, who are able-bodied, who do not have partners and children with them, and who are not or may not become pregnant, it creates significant challenges for those managing these other considerations. These challenges can lead to people putting off accessing essential care and accumulating large medical bills.

This research was funded by the University Research Grants Program (University of Manitoba) and the Centre for Human Rights Research small grants program. It has been presented at the Metropolis Identities Summit (2022).

Working Group on Transitions in Immigration Status

This project brings together a group of migration researchers to conduct a secondary data analysis on interviews from six independent research projects that include precarious status migrant participants in order to identify key factors in transitions in immigration status (both toward more immigration stability or increased precarity.

This work is done in collaboration with Rupaleem Bhuyan, Jill Hanley, Delphine Nakache, Sonia Ben Soltane, Catherine Schmidt, Heather Bergen, and Oula Hajjar with funding from the SSHRC Partnership Engage Grant Building Migrant Resilience in Cities. It has been presented at the Legal and Society Association annual conference (2022).

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. It has been presented at the Metropolis Identities Summit (2022), Canadian Political Science Association annual conference (2022, 2021, 2019), Law and Society Association annual conference (2021), Canadian Association for Social Work Education (2019), and the International Conference on Public Policy (2019).

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. It has been presented at the Canadian Association for Refugees and Forced Migration (2017).

From 2016 to the present, I have been a team member of a SSHRC-funded multi-disciplinary research team (Principle/co-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.

This work has been presented at the Canadian Congress of Leisure Research (2021).

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.

This work has been presented at the Canadian Association for International Development (2017) and the Canadian Association for Refugees and Forced Migration (2017).

Artist: Nikki Küntzle



Larios, L. (2023). The problematization of migrant maternity: Implications of the ‘passport baby’ narrative in the Canadian context. Social Politics: International studies in gender, state, and society. DOI: 10.1093/sp/jxad002

Within the liberal democracies of the global north, fears associated with migrant maternity are a long-standing part of immigration politics. This article raises concerns about what narratives political and public debates on migrant maternity are mobilizing, who they are targeting, and how these narratives shape the experiences of a wide range of migrants in Canada as they access prenatal and obstetric care. The article uses policy and media analysis to examine how migrant maternity is problematized in Canada through the “passport baby” narrative alongside interview data, which illustrates how this narrative impacts the lives of mothers with a range of migrant trajectories. This article argues that this problematization relies on overgeneralizations that overlook the complexity of migration, continues to be shaped by racial discrimination and stereotypes, and results in increased vulnerability for pregnant migrants within Canada.

Larios, L. (2022). Precarious reproductive citizenship: Employment protections for pregnant precarious status migrants in Canada. Citizenship Studies. DOI: 10.1080/13621025.2022.2073970

Understandings of citizenship have increasingly come to include the recognition of family care and reproduction as practices of citizenship and a recognition that migrants who are not citizens nonetheless engage in many practices of citizenship within their host state and rely on their host state for the fulfilment of basic human rights. This paper conceptualizes this intersection of immigration and reproduction as precarious reproductive citizenship, arguing that gaps in entitlements for pregnant precarious status migrants constitute reproductive injustice and present an important challenge for how we understand citizenship and human rights. This conceptualization is illustrated through interviews with women concerning their experiences of pregnancy and new motherhood while having precarious immigration status living in Montreal, Canada. It highlights three employment-related policies: employment discrimination protections, maternity and parental leave, and childcare. In each case, immigration status (directly or indirectly) acts as a barrier to accessing protections and programs meant to support gender equity and overall family thriving.

Gagnon, A. & Larios, L. (2021). The politicization of immigration at the sub-national level: Election discourse in Quebec and Ontario. Canadian Journal of Political Science 54, pp. 696-719. DOI: 10.1017/S0008423921000469

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Open political debate on immigration and integration policies (IIP) among Canadian political parties has been relatively limited. As Canada's immigration and integration systems become more decentralized, what about political debates about IIP in Canadian provinces? This article examines how IIP evolved across time by focusing on political parties’ claims, frames and pledges in party platforms and newspapers, using the cases of Ontario and Quebec. In Ontario, IIP were primarily framed as an economic and social resource. However, following the event of 9/11, new frames began to be introduced, contributing to a heightened salience and polarization. In contrast to Quebec, however, this politicization was not sustained. In Quebec, IIP were only marginally a matter of debate until the mid-2000s. This changed following the Hérouxville event, as these topics became salient, and dominant frames of immigration as economic and social resources were challenged by those of immigration as economic and cultural threats.

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 25(2): 253-272. 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 15(3): 273-291. DOI: 10.1080/19460171.2020.1752760

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 16(2): 189-199. DOI: 10.1108/IJMHSC-04-2019-0046

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. 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. The authors then present participants’ work conditions before becoming pregnant, working conditions while pregnant and employment options and pressures after giving birth. 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. DOI: 10.7202/1068740ar

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.

Research Notes

Larios, L. & Paterson, S. (2021) Fear of the Other: Vulnerabilization, Social Empathy, and the COVID-19 Pandemic in Canada. Critical Policy Studies 15(2):137-145. DOI: 10.1080/19460171.2021.1927777

Book Chapters

Larios, L. (2022) Les immigrants au statut précaire et les personnes sans statut au Québec. In M. Paquet (ed.), Nouvelles dynamiques de l’immigration au Québec. Montréal, QC: Les Presses de l’Université de Montréal.

Abji, S. & Larios, L. (2022). ‘Migrant justice as reproductive justice: Birthright citizenship and the politics of immigration detention for pregnant women in Canada. In S. Aiken & S. Silverman (eds.), A World without Cages: Bridging Immigration and Prison Justice. Routledge/Taylor & Francis.

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.

Public Engagement & Media

Fighting for Reproductive Rights in 2022” Roundtable hosted by the Centre for Human Rights Research, 13 July 2022.

Ibrahim, E. (2022, May 28). Migrant women workers in Canada continue to face barriers to abortion access: advocates. Canadian Press. [interviewee]

Sachdeva, R. (2022, May 6). Abortion is legal in Canada. But is it accessible? CTV News. [interviewee]

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