Rural Resilience

About the lab

"Rural Resilience is an engaged community of research and practice, led by Dr. Kelly Vodden, dedicated to advancing the resilience and sustainability of rural communities and regions in Newfoundland and Labrador and beyond."
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Featured research (6)

Globally, employment-related geographical mobility (mobility to and within work) is a pervasive aspect of work that has potential health and safety implications. As an introduction to this special issue, this article defines the mobile workforce as those who engage in complex/extended mobility to and within work encompassing >two hours daily, less frequent but more extended mobility between regions and countries, and mobility within work such as between work sites or in mobile workplaces. Focusing on the Canadian context, we discuss the challenges associated with developing a statistical profile for this diversely mobile workforce and provide an overview of articles in the special issue identifying key health and safety challenges associated with extended/complex employment-related geographical mobility. We estimate that up to 16 percent of Canada’s employed labor force (including those commuting > one hour one-way, temporary residents with work permits, and transportation workers) engage in extended/complex mobility related to work.
On March 27-28, Memorial University participated in the pan-Canadian Vanier Institute of the Family’s Families in Canada 2019 Conference by co-hosting a satellite conference called Families on the Move. The Families in Canada 2019 Conference, was entitled “THINK BIG: How can we use “Big Data” to inform and inspire big ideas to optimize family well-being in Canada.” It allowed delegates from across Canada to: a) connect people who study, serve and/or support families in Canada in the government, research, non-profit and private sectors; b) collaborate to share interdisciplinary research and cross-cultural/cross-sectoral insights on families in Canada; c) create and cultivate new resources for those who study, serve and support families in Canada, including a Canadian Family Researchers Network. The Families on the Move Satellite Conference engaged individuals with lived experiences of mobility-related challenges as mobile workers, immigrants, Indigenous Peoples, military personnel, veterans, public safety personnel, survivors of domestic violence, and people with disabilities. It also engaged those who study, serve and support these groups and their families. The rationale for Families on the Move was that geographical mobility is an integral part of daily life for all families and that synchronizing the diverse and divergent mobilities of individual family members related to work, school, community involvement, recreation, and other activities can be challenging. It is, however, particularly challenging for families with members with disabilities who face mobility challenges, those with members who currently or in the past have had to access work far from home (as with mobile workers, military, veterans), families that move frequently for work (as with military and some police-engaged families and those fleeing domestic violence), those who access education or health care far from home (as with Indigenous, and rural families), and for recent immigrants and refugee families seeking to settle in new places like Newfoundland and Labrador. Given this, Families on the Move sought to spark conversation on commonalities and divergences in the mobility experiences of these groups based on lived experience, research, and observations by those who serve and support them. The hope was to begin to identify potential policy issues – including those shared across these diverse groups -- and to identify new areas for research and collaboration in the future.
Faced with increased demand, an aging labour force, and climate risk, there are concerns that the construction industry in Canada will face recruitment challenges over the next decade. With rising housing prices and related increases in commute times and often cost in global cities such as Toronto and Vancouver, there is concern these are pushing low-income residents to areas further from the downtown, potentially reducing the labour supply of construction workers in inner cities. To investigate this, we generated a preliminary synthesis of existing research on the impact of housing prices and commuting costs on labour markets in big cities, with a focus on the effects these might be having for workers in the construction sector. Overall, we found little research on urban construction labour markets in Canada’s biggest cities and no studies directly linking the labour market dynamics of the urban industry to housing and commute challenges. This is an area requiring further research.
Household, journey-to-work, and workplace dynamics intersect and are diverse and changing. These intersections contribute to gendered, classed, and racialized divisions of labour at home, at work, and on the road. Research on journeys-to-work has generally focused on journeys that happen daily, follow similar routes, at similar times, and involve travel to a single, fixed workplace. Time geography has shared some of this focus in its attention to fixity and constraints that shape these kinds of movements in time and space. However, change and disruption in home lives, journeys-to-work and in the location and scheduling of work are widespread. Feminist intersectional rhythmanalysis may be better equipped to address these. This article draws on insights from a body of Canadian research captured here in the form of 5 vignettes that describe intersecting home, work, environmental and employment-related geographical mobility (E-RGM) rhythms and some of their consequences across diverse groups, sectors and contexts. The vignettes are derived from research among trucking, construction, seafood processing, homecare, and precariously employed urban immigrant workers. We focus on groups engaging in complex, extended and often changing E-RGM to and within work. The vignettes highlight ways diverse gendered, classed and some racialized spatio-temporal rhythms of work, E-RGM, weather and seasons, and household lives intersect to disrupt and, as we move through the vignettes, increasingly constrain the capacity of these diverse groups of workers and their households to achieve even fragile synchronicities, reflecting the extension of coercion beyond the workplace into life at home and work-related mobilities.
International research has generated strong evidence that healthcare providers (HCPs) play a key role in the return to work (RTW) process. However, pressure on consultation time, administrative challenges and limited knowledge about a patient's workplace can thwart meaningful engagement. Aim: Our study sought to understand how HCPs interact with workers compensation boards (WCBs), manage the treatment of workers compensation patients and navigate the RTW process. Method: The study involved in-depth interviews with 97 HCPs in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador and interviews with 34 case managers (CMs). An inductive, constant comparative analysis was employed to develop key themes. Findings: Most HCPs did not encounter significant problems with the workers compensation system or the RTW process when they treated patients who had visible, acute, physical injuries, but faced challenges when they encountered patients with multiple injuries, gradual-onset or complex illnesses, chronic pain and mental health conditions. In these circumstances, many experienced the workers compensation system as opaque and confusing. A number of systemic, process and administrative hurdles, disagreements about medical decisions and lack of role clarity impeded the meaningful engagement of HCPs in RTW. In turn, this has resulted in challenges for injured workers (IWs), as well as inefficiencies in the workers compensation system. Conclusion: This study raises questions about the appropriate role of HCPs in the RTW process. We offer suggestions about practices and policies that can clarify the role of HCPs and make workers compensation systems easier to navigate for all stakeholders.

Lab head

On the Move
  • Department of Sociology
About On the Move
  • The On the Move Partnership is a multi-year national scale research program with international links, investigating employment-related geographical mobility and its consequences for workers, families, employers, communities, and Canadian municipal, provincial and federal governments.

Members (33)

Barbara Neis
  • Memorial University of Newfoundland
Tim Cresswell
  • The University of Edinburgh
Leah F. Vosko
  • York University
Caroline B. Brettell
  • Southern Methodist University
Steven High
  • Concordia University Montreal
Eric Tucker
  • York University
Kelly Vodden
  • Memorial University of Newfoundland
Sylvie Gravel
  • Université du Québec à Montréal

Alumni (8)

Ivy Lynn Bourgeault
  • University of Ottawa
Michael Leiter
  • Deakin University
Katherine Lippel
  • University of Ottawa
George Gmelch
  • University of San Francisco and Union College