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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.
Article Citation:
Neis, Barbara and Katherine Lippel. (2019) “Occupational health and safety and the mobile workforce:
insights from a Canadian research program.” NEW SOLUTIONS: A Journal of Environmental and
Occupational Health Policy. 29(3), pp. 297-316.
This article is part of a Special Issue on Occupational Health and Safety and Employment-Related
Geographical Mobility Guest Editors: Katherine Lippel and Barbara Neis.
Table of Contents for Special Issue
Introduction to Special Issue Occupational Health and Safety and the Mobile Workforce: Insights From
a Canadian Research Program,
Barbara Neis and Katherine Lippel 297
Regulating Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation in Canada for the Mobile Workforce: Now
You See Them, Now You Don’t
Katherine Lippel and David Walters 317
Travel Time as Work Time? Nature and Scope of Canadian Labor Law’s Protections for Mobile
Workers, Dalia Gesualdi-Fecteau, Delphine Nakache, and Laurence Matte Guilmain 349
Occupational Health and Safety Challenges From Employment-Related Geographical Mobility Among
Canadian Seafarers on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway
Desai Shan and Katherine Lippel 371
Occupational Health and Safety for Migrant Domestic Workers in Canada: Dimensions of (Im)mobility
Nicole S. Hill, Sara Dorow, Bob Barnetson, Javier F. Martinez, and Jared Matsunaga-Turnbull 397
Factors Influencing the Health and Safety of Temporary Foreign Workers in Skilled and Low-Skilled
Occupations in Canada
Leonor Cedillo, Katherine Lippel, and Delphine Nakache 422
“You Can’t Solve Precarity With Precarity.” The New Alberta Workers Program: An Interview With
Jared Matsunaga-Turnbull, Executive Director of the Alberta Workers’ Health Centre
Dana Howse 459
Feature – Introduction to Special Issue
Occupational health and safety and the mobile workforce: insights from a Canadian research program
Barbara Neis and Katherine Lippel
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 > 2 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 > 1 hour one-way, temporary residents with work permits, and transportation workers)
engage in extended/complex mobility related to work.
Key words: employment-related geographical mobility, Canada, health and safety, workers’
compensation, migrant workers
Since the beginning of the industrial era, workers have journeyed to work using diverse
modes of transportation. These journeys have encompassed multiple spatial and temporal scales
extending from daily to international mobility for work. Similarly, some types of work have
always been associated with mobility within work as, for example, in the transportation sector.
Over the past few decades, however, deregulation, the internationalization and externalization
of production and services, changes in transportation, urbanization, and the promotion of labor
market and work scheduling flexibility and related increases in precarious employment, have
contributed to the complexity and diversity of internal and international employment-related
geographical mobility (E-RGM) in many parts of the world.1–4 There are growing literatures on
mobility and on the changing world of work but until recently, there has been limited research
linking these two phenomena and exploring their diverse combined impacts including on health
and safety.4 This special issue of New Solutions brings together a set of articles developed as
part of a large program of research called the On the Move Partnership
( focused on documenting and assessing the impacts of
extended/complex mobility to and within work for working people, including on their health
and safety.
Over the past eight years, On the Move researchers and partners have been exploring E-
RGM in the Canadian context. Here, we apply the definition of E-RGM as articulated by
Roseman and colleagues:
Employment-related geographical mobility entails mobility to and from one’s job,
and as part of one’s job. Employment-related geographical mobility ranges across
a spectrum from relative immobility (work at home); through extended, daily
travel to and from work and within jobs; to regular, more extended absences from
home at regional, national, and international scales. This spectrum therefore takes
into account not only transnational mobility to and as part of employment, but also
similar movement (and lack thereof) between localities, regions, and provinces and
states, as well as across other subnational borders. We use the adjective
“geographical” to distinguish this form of mobility from the alternative meaning of
“mobility” in the social sciences, where it is associated with “upward” or
“downward” social and economic movement along the kinds of scales (such as
class and education) that are used by some theorists.3(pp175-176)
On the Move researchers have focused on extended/complex E-RGM across the spectrum from
extended daily mobility (> 2 hours daily) to, and in some cases, within work (as in transportation,
trucking, fishing, homecare and some cleaning work), to less frequent employment-related mobility to
regions, provinces, and countries different from places of residence (as in fly-in/fly-out, drive-in/drive-
out work, and various types of international labor migration into and out of Canada for work). Some of
this mobile labour force can be categorized as doubly mobile in that they engage in extended/complex
mobility to work in mobile workplaces or, as with home care workers, can beemployed in multiple
workplaces so that their E-RGM includes both travel to work and commuting between workplaces. We
have examined these different types of mobility in urban and rural contexts, across multiple sectors and
The overall program of On the Move Partnership included statistical research as well as extensive
field and policy research on regulatory frameworks. Two key areas of focus for our research were
occupational health and safety (OHS) and workers' compensation policy as applied to the mobile
workforce. As identified in parts of the research program, challenges for effective implementation of
protections in Canada for differently-mobile groups of workers, and proposed strategies to address
these problems, are the main focus of this special issue. Related overarching themes are, on the one
hand, the application of OHS legislation and related employment standards to the mobile workforce
and, on the other hand, the application of workers' compensation provisions to determine whether the
promise of flexibility in the application of these regimes does indeed deliver adequate protection to the
various segments of the mobile workforce. In the remainder of this introduction, we provide: a
statistical profile of the scale and diversity of the segments of the Canadian labor force where
extended/complex E-RGM tends to be concentrated (including international migrants who come to
Canada and work); place the special issue in the context of the larger literature on labor mobility and
OHS/workers’ compensation; and, provide an overview of the issues, and themes addressed in the
The spectrum of extended/complex E-RGM in Canada
The spectrum of extended/complex E-RGM from daily mobility through more extended travel and
absence from home for work among internally and internationally mobile workers in Canada includes a
broad range of factual situations. There are people who engage in extended and often multi-modal daily
commutes to work, particularly if they travel by public transit and work in large metropolitan areas like
Toronto and Vancouver.5–7 There are others who come from all over Canada, and potentially from
outside of Canada, to go to a remote workplace, such as a mine in Northern Ontario, an oil and gas
development in Alberta or Saskatchewan,4 or in transient treeplanting locations. Many Canadians and
some international migrant workers work in mobile workplaces such as those in trucking, fishing,
shipping, or the airline sector. Others come from local regions, different parts of Canada, or
internationally to work in the service sector including in a hotel or outfitting lodge in rural areas or in
major tourism centers like Banff in Alberta,8 as health care and live-in caregivers,9,10 or as high or low-
skilled workers in occupations in such sectors as construction, agriculture, seafood, and meat
processing in urban and rural areas.11 The challenges to effective OHS protections and for fair access to
workers’ compensation differ according to the specific situation.
The mobile workforce is also multi-faceted in relation to time. Extended and complex daily
mobilities can cover relatively short distances but consume several hours a day. Such is the case with
some precariously employed immigrant workers in cleaning and other temp agency work in Toronto,
and homecare workers in different contexts.6,7 There are mobility situations that require varying
amounts of time spent away from home ranging from days, through weeks, and even years. There are
long-term employment relationships that require mobility, but also short-term employment
relationships. Some temporary foreign workers (TFWs) have been returning to Canada, perhaps to the
same employer, for decades and can remain in Canada, separated from their families for seasons and
even several years. Construction workers, on the other hand, often travel to shifting, relatively short
term work locations that can require extended daily commutes or extended rotations of several weeks at
a time. Fly-in/fly-out out arrangements can involve a stable workforce governed by a collective
agreement or workers placed by temporary employment agencies, or other intermediaries, for short-
term work. Some mobile workers are self-employed while others are employees. Some are precariously
employed, others have job security and union protection. The parameters of the specific situations have
particularly important implications in the policy context, given the potential for "layers of
vulnerability" as defined by Sargeant and Tucker.12
Extended/complex E-RGM in Canada: a statistical profile
There is no single data source in Canada that fully and clearly captures the number of people in the
labor force engaged in the diverse types of extended/complex E-RGM that are the focus of the On the
Move Partnership and of this special issue. Data from the 2016 Canadian Census and from
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for international temporary residents with work
permits are synthesized in Table 1, providing a rough estimate of the proportion of Canada’s employed
labor force engaged in extended/complex mobility for work during that year. Data on the employed
labor force, long commutes, inter-provincial employment, and transportation workers come from the
2016 Census. Data on numbers of different types of temporary residents with work permits including
entrants through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and International Mobility Program
come from IRCC.
Table 1: Estimated proportion of Canadian employed labor force engaged in
extended/complex work-related mobility, 2016
Employed labor force (ELF)14 17,230,035
Commuting, total15 15,878,940
Type of commute / worker Number % of employed LF
Total extended/complex work-related mobility 2,837,745 16.46%
Long commutes (> 1 hour one-way)15 1,494,830 8.68%
Inter-provincial commutes15 158,000 0.92%
Transportation workers15 818,110 4.75%
Temporary residents with work permits16–18 366,785 2.1%
Temporary Foreign Worker Program* 17 78,455
International Mobility Program** 18 288,330
*Given seasonal workers generally leave by December 31st, we used year in which permits were valid.
**Given work permits may be greater than one year, we used December 31st count.
The data in these sources has recognized limits. Some individuals would be captured in more than
one category and would be counted twice in our estimates, but 2016 Census data in particular likely
under-estimates numbers engaged in extended/complex mobility for work as defined in this special
issue. For instance, some transportation workers will be included in the “long commute” category if
they commute an hour or more to work, one way. Long commute estimates do not include, however,
mobility within work which is a feature of all transportation work and is associated with similar
hazards and work-life challenges as extended commutes. Similarly, those who work in multiple
locations, such as homecare workers, some cleaners, and travelling sales representatives, may travel
relatively short (but often changing) distances to work and, in addition, commute between workplaces
with the combined travel taking up a large part of their day. They would likely not be classified as
engaged in long commutes in the Census.7,19 Because of their mobility within work, these workers may
confront similar hazards and likely make similar investments (time and costs) in mobility as other
extended/complex mobility groups.7 Additionally, the Census captures only commutes to work and
does not capture intermittent but potentially quite frequent E-RGM that can be part of work (such as
business trips).
In terms of the inter-provincial worker data in Table 1, many but not all Canadian inter-provincial
employees engage in extended mobility for work. Some live close to provincial boundaries and their
work, although in another province, would be nearby, thus some of these workers would not engage in
extended/complex E-RGM and some of those who do have long commutes would be captured in the
long commute category. However, census data seriously under-estimate the number and proportion of
inter-provincial employees in Canada’s employed labour force. Data from Statistics Canada’s Canadian
Employer-Employee Dynamics Database (CEEDD) which links multiple databases including taxfiler
data,20 can provide a better grasp of the scope and volatility of inter-provincial employment in Canada,
but these data are not easily accessed and not yet available for 2016. Using the CEEDD, Statistics
Canada estimates of the employed inter-provincial labor force were closer to 2.5 to 3 percent between
2002 and 2011 but fluctuated in response to the impacts of the global recession in 2008 including on
prices for key commodities like oil, production ofwhich is a key driver for long distance labor
commuting in Canada.21 One reason the Census underestimates inter-provincial employment is because
questions speak only to employment at the time of the census. As a result, the often seasonally
employed mobile workers who engage in fly-in/fly-out, drive-in/drive-out long distance labor
commuting to other provinces, and those who work seasonally in other provinces in the tourism and
other sectors would be under-counted. Similarly, seasonal workers who engage in long commutes to
work on a rotational basis within large provinces like Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, and
Newfoundland and Labrador are likely poorly captured in the long commute data category from the
Table 1 also includes data on two types of temporary residents with work permits in Canada. TFWs
have been included in the Census since 1991. However, it is not clear this population is well captured.
Furthermore, Census data on commute times and distances for those international migrants with work
permits would relate to travel from their place of residence in Canada to work in Canada (as opposed to
travel from their country of origin) and would thus seriously under-estimate the proportion of these
international migrants who have engaged in complex/extended mobility to Canada for work thus
making them part of the Canadian mobile labour force.
Taking into account both problems with double counting and under-estimation from available
Canadian data, the statistical profile of extended/complex E-RGM in Table 1 suggests it is a significant
aspect of the working lives of up to 16 percent of people in Canada’s employed labor force. What are
some of the characteristics of the mobile labor force based on these sources? Extended/complex daily
commutes were particularly common in major urban centers in Canada and long commutes (defined by
Statistics Canada as on average >sixty minutes each way) are increasingly common across the
employed labor force as a whole. More men than women engage in the long commutes, particularly
long distance2 but given research done elsewhere on journey-to-work among men and women, it is
possible the length and duration of women’s commutes is under-estimated if it does not include their
often more frequent integration of daycare, shopping, and other mobility into their E-RGM.7,22,23 Long
distance labor commuting happens in both urban and rural areas but its relative importance to regional
economies is particularly significant in rural areas including high unemployment areas of Canada like
the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.20 Table 1 shows that in 2016, the number of Canadian
commuters for work with ‘long commutes’ of more than sixty minutes on average commuting to work
reached almost 1.5 million, 8.7 percent of the employed labor force.24 A majority (57 percent) of these
spent that time in a car, truck, or van, either as driver (673,000) or as passenger (181,000). The average
one-way commuting time for these long commutes was seventy-four minutes and was essentially
unchanged from 2011; nine percent spent more than two hours (120+ minutes) on each one-way daily
commute.24 Only 12 percent of all commuters used Canadian public transit systems to get to work but
among these commuters, about 40 percent (representing 595,000 people) had a long commuting time,
spending at least sixty minutes on a bus, subway, train, commuter rail, or ferry every day to get to
work.25 Since public transit commutes are generally multi-modal (walk or car and sometimes more than
one mode of public transit), these data may underestimate average commute time for those using public
transit and others who engage in multi-modal commutes such as fly in/fly out workers who drive to an
airport to catch a flight and then are transported by bus, taxi, or other means to their work site, or drive
in/drive out workers who drive to a rendezvous point and are picked up there for further transit to the
Based on the Census, those who report having ‘no fixed workplace’ are more likely to engage in
long commutes than those who travel to a regular place of work. The proportion of Canadians with ‘no
fixed workplace’ is growing. Those with no fixed workplace location in 2016 were concentrated in
particular sectors including: construction (31.2 percent), administrative and support, waste
management, and remediation services (10.8 percent), and in transportation and warehousing (10.7
percent).27 For all employees, average commute times can mask substantial daily, seasonal and other
types of variability. Furthermore, average commute times can understate the challenges associated with
long commutes because the possibility of longer than average commutes needs to be accommodated in
daily lives including, for example, when arranging daycare.5,7
Some inter-provincial employees particularly those in resource extraction (oil and gas, mining,
forestry), construction, and seasonal agriculture and food processing (for instance, seafood
processing),28 tourism, health care (including home care),13 and transportation (e.g. shipping, trucking)
often travel long distances to work in other provinces, using multi-modal transportation
(car/truck/ferry/plane), and can be away from home for weeks or even months at a time. These patterns
are particularly common among those living in lower income/higher unemployment regions such as
Atlantic Canada.
Based on IRCC data, temporary residents with work permits comprised an estimated 2.1 percent of
the employed Canadian labour force in 2016 (Table 1). They enter Canada through various programs
including as high and low-skilled TFWs, seasonal agricultural workers, live-in caregivers, as well as
under the international mobility program. As noted by Cedillo et al.,11 Canada’s TFWP population
increased eight-fold from 1995 to 2017. These data do not include the numbers of international
migrants who come to Canada as international students, a group that has grown substantially in recent
years, many of whom would be of working age (postsecondary students) and would have a work
permit. In some cases, they may be coming in through the international student program only because
this is considered to be their best option for gaining access to employment and ultimately immigration
status.29,30 All of these internationally mobile workers engage in complex/extended E-RGM to get to
Canada but may, because of their status as students and TFWs, with the latter often tied to a particular
employer and thus not likely to engage in extended travel within Canada, not be picked up in Statistics
Canada’s long commute category.
Finally, the 2016 Census asks only about journey to work and not mobility within work which is
characteristic of the very large transportation sector. Some of these workers engage in daily commutes
to work, sometimes to a transient workplace or port of departure, and are then mobile while working.31
In some cases, the distances they journey from home can be relatively short, allowing them to return
home at the end of a working day. In other cases, such as long haul trucking, seafaring, the airline
sector, and some fishing, they can be mobile for several days, weeks, and in some cases (such as
seafaring) for months at a time. As indicated in Table 1, there were 818,110 transportation workers in
Canada (4.7 percent of the employed labour force) in 2016.
Taking these diverse mobilities and groups (long commuters, inter-provincial employees,
international migrants, transportation workers, and others) into account, and acknowledging the
shortcomings with existing statistical sources including both likely double-counting and under-
estimates, it is reasonable to estimate that up to 16 percent of the Canadian employed labor force
engages in complex/extended mobility related to work. Furthermore, the proportion is likely increasing
in Canada, is concentrated in urban areas, but is also important for many rural areas of the country
including particularly Atlantic Canada. Patterns of extended/complex E-RGM vary across sectors and
are associated with large-scale economic fluctuations and with policy shifts including particularly
policies related to immigration, (TFW, IMP, and foreign student programs), technological changes and
changes in the organization of production (such as just-in-time delivery), and often developments in
state-subsidized resource development and major construction initiatives.
Overview of the special issue
The special issue opens with a synthesis of the On the Move findings related to OHS and workers’
compensation by Lippel and Walters.32 As indicated in that overview, while considering the spectrum
of complex/extended mobility in our research and reflecting on OHS and workers’ compensation
policy, it became clear that policy challenges apply distinctly depending on the specific categories of
mobility examined. For example, internal Canadian inter-provincial "migrants" don't necessarily have
an employer when they travel to another province for work, a reality that determines specific
challenges, obligations, and solutions. For a further example, those who have short term commutes to
get to and from work, or who travel between clients during the course of the day, may not face the
same work-family challenges attributable to their mobility as those faced by long-term commuters and
TFWs but they may face other challenges including allocating a greater share of their working lives and
incomes to commuting since they do it on a daily basis.
Lippel and Walters organize their findings on OHS by distinguishing between hazards and
challenges associated with getting to work, working, living at work, and living at home for diverse
groups of differently mobile workers. A key high-level finding is that certain characteristics of mobility
present particular challenges for regulatory effectiveness. Figure 1 provides an overview of
determinants of regulatory effectiveness in OHS-WC. For the mobile workforce key determinants
include the visibility and invisibility of different categories. In Canada, while TFWs are highly visible
to the federal immigration regulator, they are less so for the provincial OHS and workers’
compensation authorities who have had, until recently, no mechanism to detect where international
migrants were working within the province - a situation that mirrors the reality in many European
countries.33 The invisibility is even more pronounced when we consider internally mobile workers who
do not require any form of permit to travel between provinces for work. Nor is there any regulatory
attention paid to workers, often highly precarious, who undertake a long daily commute.6 Also of
importance is the issue of cultural isolation as certain types of mobility may impact the social cohesion
of workplaces and surrounding communities, the sense of belonging to the workplace collective, and
access to social support from families and others in their neighborhood/community of residence. The
isolation of certain categories of mobile workers can serve as an impediment and deterrent to
unionization and can create challenges for managing work-related stress, injury, illness, and return to
work. These will, in turn, weaken mobile workers’ ability to exercise their rights including those
related to OHS, accessing compensation, and return to work.11
Figure 1. The determinants of OHS-WC regulatory effectiveness
Lippel and Walters find there are significant disparities within the mobile workforce as to power
relations and autonomy. The impact of mobility will be quite different for those who have greater
autonomy and control over their working conditions as compared to workers who have little say on
when and where they must work, and how the job must be done. Professional hockey players are
technically mobile workers, as are many scientific, health, educational, and management professionals,
but they generally have access to more mobility-related supports, job security, and better incomes to
help offset the costs, stresses, and strains of extended/complex E-RGM. There are also sectoral
differences of importance: challenges and solutions specific to OHS protection of miners, seafarers, or
truckers will be very different from those relevant to tree planters or agricultural workers. Finally, there
are important differences within sectors including, for example, between red seal, unionized
construction trades workers and laborers, between genders, younger and older workers, and between
internally and internationally mobile workers. Further distinctions in layers and degree of
vulnerability12 will apply to undocumented international workers, more vulnerable as compared to
TFW visa holders, who in turn are more vulnerable than the local workforce with regard to many
issues, a phenomenon that has been broadly documented in Canada34 and internationally.35 Even when
labor rights clearly exist, the specificities of the conditions of work in relation to international
migration status are known to affect the ability of workers to mobilize regulatory protections.36-40
Thus, as can be seen in the other articles in the special issue which focus on particular groups and
contexts, OHS regulatory challenges vary and can be complex depending on the nature of employment,
on time and distance considerations, as well as on the worker's status and particular circumstances
(gender and related vulnerabilities, language proficiency, nature of migration) which can increase their
vulnerability. As Lippel and Walters show,32 challenges for effective application of workers'
compensation legislation also exist, although their sources are different.
The second article in the special issue by Gesualdi-Fecteau et al.26 picks up the theme of
vulnerabilities linked to the journey to and from work identified by Lippel and Walters. In this article,
starting from evidence of increasing duration, complexity, and diversity of E-RGM, these three legal
scholars ask whether and when travel time is considered work time in Canada. As noted by the authors,
[f]rom a labor law perspective, determining whether and when time spent travelling by workers
counts as work time will have repercussions for workers’ remuneration and related benefits,
such as the possibility to resort to legal provisions limiting the duration of work, and overtime
and vacation pay calculations. It will also influence protections found in health and safety law
and the ability of injured and ill workers and their families to access workers' compensation
benefits for travel-related injuries and illnesses.26
They begin by conceptualizing some of the diverse employment-related travel schemes associated with
different types of work and situations in Canada and then present and analyze the nature and scope of
labor law protections related to travel time based on employment standards law across four Canadian
provinces. Reading across case law they point to a few overarching principles associated with decisions
including the degree of control exercised by employers over travel time. Gesualdi-Fecteau et al.19 note
that despite the vulnerabilities for workers associated with excluding most travel time from work time,
many workers might not want employer control to be extended to this part of their working lives.
Shan and Lippel’s31 contribution presents findings from a study of mobility-related OHS issues
among seafarers employed on the St. Lawrence Seaway and Great Lakes, including those related to the
journey to work and mobility within work. Great Lakes seafarers journey varying distances from home
to often changing ports of departure and, once at work onboard their vessels, frequently engage in inter-
provincial mobility and sometimes cross the international boundary between Canada and the United
States. These diverse mobilities to and within work expose seafarers to various OHS hazards.
Furthermore, these mobilities and the regulatory framework for OHS in the fleet can constrain
seafarers’ access to regulatory protections. Based on legal analysis and key informant interviews done
almost exclusively with men, study findings show that few legal instruments are available to protect
seafarers from commuting-related occupational hazards and that OHS challenges while at work are
numerous, particularly when we consider that ships are a type of “total institution.” As Shan and Lippel
say “one of the totalistic features of ships is that work, rest, and entertainment are all under a single
authority on board” which has implications for worker voice.41
Three of the six articles in the special issue focus on international migrant or TFWs in Canada. Hill
et al.9 document OHS (im)mobilities-related challenges experienced by primarily female domestic
workers employed in a rural and remote small city (Fort McMurray), the population of which serves
the large oil and gas development and extraction activities of the Municipality of Wood Buffalo in
Northern Alberta. These live-in caregivers generally come from the Philippines and their employers are
well-paid oil and gas workers. They care for the latter’s children and homes while their employers
commute to work on site on a 24/7 basis. These caregivers are among the 67 million domestic workers
globally whose work is integral to supporting the working lives of others but whose OHS-related issues
are under-studied, particularly in Canada. A key focus of the article is the relationship between
multiple-level factors and their vulnerability to hazards. These factors include meta-level transnational
migration and state policy, meso- or regional-level policies and practices related to the oil-sands
economy of Alberta, and micro-level (im)mobilities in terms of the households and communities where
these caregivers work. Hill et al.9 also explore the relationship between (im)mobilities and the effects
of an OHS system that makes their presence, work, and the hazards caregivers face largely invisible to
regulators and constrains their recourse in addressing them. The authors draw on results from a mixed
methods study (survey and interviews) and conclude with a series of policy suggestions designed to
help address the problems they identify.
Cedillo et al.11 present OHS-related findings in a dataset from a larger individual and group
interview-based study carried out among TFWs working in low- and high-skilled occupations who had
or were transitioning to permanent residence in Canada at the time of the original study (2014-2015). In
the past, access to permanent residence was largely limited to workers in high-skilled occupations but
this has changed in some provinces through the introduction of Provincial Nominee programs. The
effects of this transition were the main impetus for the original study. There were 99 interviewees in the
original study (forty-eight workers and fifty-one others). From these, transcripts from twenty-two
workers and relevant insights from others that included data related to working conditions and OHS
were retained for this study. The workers had worked or were working in meat processing, hotels, food
service, or construction in Canada. Cedillo et al.11 document a range of concerns including serious OHS
issues, the ways precarious migration status affects the ability of these workers to exercise their rights
(voice), and mechanisms that undermine regulatory effectiveness. They also document the associated
sources of vulnerability, including closed work permits, which make TFWs dependent on a single
employer as well as the invisibility of TFWs to OHS and employment standards regulators. The authors
recommend changes to related programs including improving migration security and promoting
communications between provincial OHS and federal immigration departments.
The special issue concludes with an article by Dana Howse42 based on an interview with Jared
Matsunaga-Turnbull, Executive Director of the Alberta Workers’ Health Centre. The article focuses on
Matsunaga-Turnbull’s observations and reflections on a peer-to-peer OHS education project entitled
the New Alberta Workers (NAW) program. That program was established with funds from a creative
sentencing fine resulting from the prosecution of a company operating in Alberta in the wake of the
death of two, and serious injury of two other international, migrant Chinese workers brought into
Canada through the TFW worker program in 2007. Its main focus was designing and delivering an
OHS program to “new Alberta workers” including primarily immigrant and migrant worker
populations in the province. The lessons from the three-year project are similar to those found in both
the Hill et al.9 article and the article by Cedillo et al.11 in terms of what they tell us about the hazards
and vulnerabilities confronting these workers. Jared Matsunaga-Turnbull also reflects on what was
learned from this large, effective approach to OHS training about both existing barriers to training and
future training opportunities.42 As noted by Howse in the introduction to the interview, “the NAW
program revealed the need for more on-the-ground comprehensive services that address in a holistic
way the array of interconnected concerns and challenges confronted by new to Alberta workers, related
to workplace rights, health and safety, housing, residency, family, healthcare, and so on.”42 [typesetter add
page #] As suggested by Matsunaga-Turnbull, when discussing the strengths and weaknesses of the NAW
program, which had only temporary funding, “you can’t solve precarity with precarity.”42
This special issue documents OHS and workers’ compensation challenges associated with mobile
workers across the spectrum from extended daily commutes to international temporary migration into
Canada. Several of the articles here focus on extended mobility for work in the resource and
transportation sectors including shipping, and among international migrant workers employed in high
and low skilled and live-in caregiver programs. Other On the Move research not included here has
focused on the OHS and other issues associated with mobility among precariously employed immigrant
workers in Toronto,6 seasonally employed migrant inter-provincial and international seafood
processing workers in Atlantic Canada,7,28,43 among differently mobile health care workers in Nova
Scotia on Canada’s east coast,10,44,45 and tourism workers in Banff, Alberta.8
A core message from this work is that protecting the health and safety and dignity of workers
requires attention to not only conditions at work, but also at home and on the road, as well as to how
these intersect to affect risk, recognition and compensation. Some On the Move researchers have
argued for the existence of work-related ‘mobility regimes’ which encompass such things as
immigration and health and safety and compensation laws, hiring practices, work scheduling and
mobility options, costs and time investments, and the discourses associated with differently mobile
groups. Documenting these regimes and how their manipulation is a key aspect of power dynamics
related to work can help make visible the role of mobility and its relationship to layers of vulnerability
including to injury, illness and constrained access to compensation.4,36. A key implication of this work
is that campaigns and policies for social justice, including as this relates to worker health, need to
consciously attend to E-RGM and to those mobility regimes.
A number of more specific cross-cutting themes emerge from the On the Move program of
research. These themes include the challenges associated with tracking extent and distribution of
extended/complex E-RGM across groups and regions, but also and importantly from a health and
safety perspective, the internal dynamics of that E-RGM (not only distance but also time, frequency,
organization, and control over the conditions of mobility). As shown in the special issue, in North
America, travel time generally is not counted as working time which means that the conditions of travel
and its potential impacts on life at work and at home are largely unregulated and individualized as in
the case of mobile seafarers and other workers. In Canada, mobile workers (including intra- and inter-
provincial workers) are largely invisible from a regulatory point of view, even more invisible than
international migrant workers. When internally mobile workers cross provincial boundaries they
normally retain eligibility for workers’ compensation – so long as their sector is covered in the
province of employment – but they may not know this. Access may be more complicated, and there
may be issues with both levels of compensation and return to work. Systems regulating international
migrant workers are complex; there are multiple categories and programs for managing these workers.
They are generally more visible to immigration officials but because immigration in Canada is a federal
responsibility, and health and safety and workers’ compensation are a provincial responsibility,
information about international migrants is not consistently shared between these agencies.11
Furthermore, because international migration is generally accompanied by enhanced layers of
vulnerability related to employment in hazardous jobs and, in some cases, work permits that tie them to
a particular employer, international migrants can be highly vulnerable to injury and illness and poorly
protected by existing regulatory frameworks. Articles by Hill et al.9 and Cedillo et al.11 both point to
the contractual obligations of employers of TFWs that are not consistently complied with. The issue of
worker voice in raising OHS concerns was shown to be a particular challenge for the mobile
workforce, both because of their precarious migration status, in the case of international migrants, but
also because of work organizational factors in ships24 and in remote locations where workers’ ability
and willingness to actively participate in health and safety matters is constrained.31
Key insights from the NAW program discussed in Howse42 point to the need for innovative,
carefully designed, and sustained programs of education, training, and community support for migrant
workers. While important, as the article suggests, access to funding supports for sustained programs of
this kind is elusive and indeed threatened by current politics in Canada, the U.S. and elsewhere around
immigration, labor migration and growing tolerance for profound violations of migrant workers’ rights.
Sustained improvement in the protection of these workers’ rights, including health and safety, requires
carefully designed and ongoing efforts to change policy and to address sectoral, regional and global
realities like corporate concentration, outsourcing and subcontracting, deep inequalities within and
between countries, the erosion of democratic institutions, and harnessing of the financial and regulatory
powers of the state to the interests of capital rather than the wider public good.
The active work of researchers, unions, social justice groups, OHS and public health professionals
and policy-makers to understand, document and identify policy and other strategies to address these
effects including as they operate through intersections between work, mobility, family and wider
society, is essential. This work must, however, be done with careful attention to what workers say they
want and need and to available opportunities and constraints. As argued recently by Weiler and
McLaughlin,47 for instance, despite the threats to rights, freedom, dignity and voice associated with
Canada’s temporary foreign worker programs, abolition rather than reform of these programs in the
context of wider social justice initiatives is not the best way to strengthen the rights of these workers.
Many, but by no means all, international migrant workers want to move to the host country; access to
permanent residency will not, in and of itself, eliminate the OHS and other vulnerabilities of these
workers and the right to mobility for work is essential to their health and well-being and that of their
families, particularly in the context of economic volatility and precarious employment. Designing
policies to try to limit internal mobility, including the capacity of migrant workers from rural and often
higher unemployment regions within Canada and elsewhere to travel to other regions for work, would
be similarly short-sighted and narrow in its focus.
Finally, new regulatory interventions that could address some of the hazards related to mobility
may well limit workers’ agency and ability to decide how and when they want to engage in the mobile
workforce. As shown in some of the papers in this issue,11,32,42 the work of labor unions and of other
forms of community unionism are making a contribution to promoting the best conditions possible for
workers engaged in the mobile work-force, however in other cases it would appear that the mobility
issues are not yet being addressed collectively by worker organizations. Invisibility of these issues for
the labor movement, compounded by management prerogatives in labor legislation, leaves the work
organization decision making to employers who have the freedom to determine schedules and work
organization without the impediment of regulation that could be designed to prevent fatigue related to
long commutes preceding shifts, for example. Leadership from organizations representing workers both
with regard to working conditions of international migrants but also with regard to the conditions
applicable to the internally mobile workforce could shape the regulatory agenda in a way that
acknowledges the need for prevention as well as the privacy rights of workers who want to maintain
control of their commuting arrangements.
The research presented in this special issue has explored the legal and practical contexts within
which workers’ rights, health and safety, and lives are impacted by E-RGM. Ideally this evidence will
be a useful resource for establishing effective policies and enforceable laws and programs that will
prevent the exploitation of workers whose employment is shaped by geographical mobility
This Introduction reports on research undertaken as part of the On the Move research partnership
funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council through its Partnership Grants funding
opportunity (Appl ID 895-2011-1019) led by Dr. Barbara Neis. An overview of the full research
program is available at The authors are deeply indebted to
Amanda Butt from the SafetyNet Centre for Occupational Health & Safety Research and On the Move,
Memorial University for her meticulous formatting and copy editing of the manuscript; to Kerri Neill
and Cristina Fabretto, On the Move staff; and, co-investigator Michael Haan for their help with the
statistical profile in this section.
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analyzing employment-related geographical mobility. Stud Polit Econ 2015; 95: 175–203.
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Authors’ Biographies
Barbara Neis is a John Paton Lewis Distinguished Professor in the Department of Sociology and
co-Director of the SafetyNet Centre for Occupational Health and Safety Research at Memorial
University of Newfoundland and the Project Director for the On the Move Partnership. Her research
interests include extended mobility for work and its consequences, health and safety with a particular
focus on rural and remote marine and coastal work, environmental change and gender and work.
Katherine Lippel holds the Canada Research Chair in Occupational Health and Safety Law at the
University of Ottawa and leads the policy component of the On the Move Partnership. Her research
interests focus on the regulatory underpinnings of practices in workers’ compensation and occupational
health and safety and their role in prevention of occupational injuries and illnesses, compensation for
disability, and return to work after injury or illness.
... This concept of complex/extended mobility encompasses the spectrum of mobility from long daily commutes (> 1 hour each way) through to interjurisdictional mobility and related extended absences, including international mobility of labour migrants. It also encompasses mobility within work, as in situations where workers commute to transient and sometimes multiple worksites, or are employed in mobile workplaces such as in trucking and seafaring (Neis and Lippel 2019). This body of research includes qualitative and mixed methods studies to address the intersections of work, mobility, and family and community using insights from economic geography, feminist political economy, and labour studies (Haan et al. 2014;Cresswell et al. 2016;Neis et al. 2018;Barber 2018;Roseman, Barber & Neis 2015), undergirded by a concern with the politics of mobility (Cresswell 2010;Neis and Lippel 2019). ...
... It also encompasses mobility within work, as in situations where workers commute to transient and sometimes multiple worksites, or are employed in mobile workplaces such as in trucking and seafaring (Neis and Lippel 2019). This body of research includes qualitative and mixed methods studies to address the intersections of work, mobility, and family and community using insights from economic geography, feminist political economy, and labour studies (Haan et al. 2014;Cresswell et al. 2016;Neis et al. 2018;Barber 2018;Roseman, Barber & Neis 2015), undergirded by a concern with the politics of mobility (Cresswell 2010;Neis and Lippel 2019). Overall, diverse complex/ extended mobilities are a fundamental characteristic of the construction sector and have thus been a core focus of some OTM social science researchers, as we will expand on further in what follows. ...
This introduction serves several purposes. First, it provides some context around the phenomenon of Employment-Related Geographical Mobility. Second, it introduces the papers included in this Special Issue.
... 1 Related discussions of these key concerns can be found elsewhere (Lippel 2020;Lippel, Neis, and James, in press;Lippel and Walters 2019;Neis, Neil, and Lippel 2021;Neis and Lippel 2019). A Zotero database with COVID-19 related references is also available as are other background documents and reports on Canada's mobile labour force on the On the Move Partnership website at www .ont ...
... 11 Notre étude sur l'effectivité de la LATMP inclut un regard sur son application aux travailleurs mobiles -une autre population qui ne correspond pas au travailleur typique envisagé par le législateur de 1985. Près de 16 % de la population qui travaille au Canada est engagée dans une forme de travail mobile, définie comme étant un travail qui exige un déplacement d'au moins deux heures par jour pour les fins du travail, mais qui englobe les travailleurs étrangers temporaires et les personnes qui travaillent en rotation en région éloignée (Neis et Lippel, 2019). Le concept comprend un spectre large de cas de figure incluant les personnes qui travaillent dans une région Retour au travail après une lésion professionnelle : étude de cas sur les eff... ...
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This article reports on findings drawn from a Quebec study investigating the experiences of precariously employed or mobile workers who attempt to return to work after a work injury. It illustrates the unexpected effects of legal regulations and their associated economic incentives on the return-to-work process. Analyzing the legal context of three case studies drawn from interviews with 11 injured workers and 18 key informants, the study examines the ways in which the regulatory framework may shape the claimants’ experiences. It first provides a detailed account of the return-to-work experiences of three workers: a fly-in, fly-out health care worker and two employees of temporary employment agencies. It then provides an in-depth examination of the mechanisms by which specific parameters of the regulatory framework that governs workers’ compensation, occupational health and safety, and the right to equality shape events leading to less than satisfactory outcomes in disability prevention. The study shows that the experiences of the three injured workers were shaped by regulatory issues that had unforeseen consequences. Avenues are suggested to improve the regulatory effectiveness of laws designed to prevent work disability.
... There are jobs in which the place of work changes several times a week or day and employees cannot freely choose the work location, for example, work in sectors such as wholesale and retail trade, manufacturing, transportation and storage, information and communication, public administration, and health [27]. The effect of mobile telework on employee well-being can be quite different for those who have control over their working location as compared to that for those who have little say in where they must work [28]. ...
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Background: In today’s world of work, the digitalization of work and communication processes is increasing, and will increase even further. This increase in digitalization at the workplace brings many new aspects of working life to light, such as working in virtual teams, mobile working, expectations of being constantly available, and the need for support in adapting and learning new digital tools. These changes to the workplace can contain risks that might harm the well-being of employees. Leaders can support the well-being of their employees in terms of protecting and replenishing their work-related resources to cope with critical work demands. This so-called health-promoting leadership could serve as a buffer between risk at the workplace and critical outcomes, such as stress, by amplifying work-related resources. Objective: This study’s aims were twofold. First, we wanted to investigate if risk factors related to higher digitalization at the workplace can be identified and if these risk factors have an impairing effect on the well-being of employees (eg, higher stress and lower resources). Second, we wanted to investigate if the health-impairing effects of these risk factors can be reduced by health-promoting leadership. Methods: A total of 1412 employees from Austria, Germany, and Switzerland took part in this online study and provided information on their perceived risks at the workplace, their leaders’ health-promoting behaviors, and their work-related stress and resources. Results: The results of a hierarchical regression analysis showed that all four risk factors of digital work (distributed team work, mobile work, constant availability, and inefficient technical support) were related to higher stress at the workplace. In addition, distributed team work and inefficient technical support were associated with lower work-related resources. A possible buffer effect of health-promoting leadership between these risks and employee well-being was visible for inefficient technical support. In particular, in the case of having fewer support opportunities in learning and using digital tools, leaders could weaken the potential critical effects on stress. As for the other risk factors, leaders might engage in a different leadership behavior to improve their employees’ well-being, as the physical distance between leaders and employees in virtual team work or mobile work could make health-promoting leadership more difficult. Conclusions: In a digitalized working world, solutions are needed to create working conditions that benefit employees. The results of this study strongly support the importance of investigating risk factors associated with an increase in digitalization at the workplace in addition to traditional risk factors. As for leadership, leaders need to show leadership behavior adapted to a digitalized workplace in order to reduce employee stress and increase work-related resources.
... Mobility "within" workthat is, between transient worksites (homecare) and in mobile workplaces (shipping and trucking)-is also a focus of OTM's research. Based on this research, OTM estimates that 16-17% of the Canadian labour force engage in one or more of these types of extended/complex E-RGM (Neis and Lippel 2019). ...
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An estimated 17% of the Canadian labor force engage in complex/extended employment-related geographical mobility ranging from extended daily commutes to regional, interprovincial and international mobility. The opportunities and challenges of particular types of mobility for family lives have been studied most often in isolation (i.e. daily commutes, fly-in/fly-out or international migration), and attention to mobility is largely absent from the work-family literature. Drawing on presentations and discussions at two recent conferences with a focus on families, work and mobility in Canada, this Research Note highlights some of the gaps in existing knowledge about families, work and mobility and some family-related challenges associated with extended/complex mobility for work from the standpoint of those living it, those studying it and those striving to serve and support these workers and their families. Examples discussed here encompass families where members are employed offshore, in other provinces and in the military. The impact of mobility on the family lives of temporary foreign workers is also discussed. We conclude with a few policy recommendations related to helping workers and their families deal with extended/complex mobility.
... We include mobility within work as in transportation and in occupations like home-care, cleaning, and some sales occupations where work takes place in multiple locations. 1 We refer to those who engage in these types of mobility as 'the mobile workforce.' ...
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Although much research has examined the occupational health and safety (OHS) and workers’ compensation (WC) implications of precarious employment and temporary international labor migration, little is known about the implications of diverse types of employment-related geographic mobility for regulatory effectiveness of OHS and WC. This article examines different types of extended mobility to determine regulatory effectiveness of OHS and WC protections. Based on classic legal analysis in seven Canadian jurisdictions, and interviews with key informants, we found that the invisibility of the internally mobile workforce, as well as the alternating visibility and invisibility of temporary foreign workers, contribute to reduced effectiveness of the OHS and WC regulation. Results point to the need for better protections to address working conditions, but also the hazards and challenges associated with mobility itself including getting to and from work, living at work, and maintaining work–life balance while living at the worksite.
Background: Little is known about the work-related injury and illness risk of out-of-province workers. This study examines whether there are differences in work-related injury and illness claim rates between within-province and out-of-province workers in British Columbia (BC), Canada. Methods: Workers' compensation claim data for injuries and illnesses in BC from 2010 to 2017 were linked with denominator data from Statistics Canada. Multivariable negative binomial regression estimated the claim rate ratio (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for out-of-province workers with all, health care-only (HCO), short-term disability, long-term disability, and fatality (SLF), and serious injury (SI) claims, compared to within-province workers. Results: Compared to within-province workers, out-of-province workers had a lower total claim rate (RR: 0.54, 95% CI: 0.52-0.57), adjusting for sex, age, industry sector, and year. Differences in rates differed by claim type, with the largest differences for HCO claims (RR: 0.49, 95% CI: 0.47-0.52) and smallest differences for SI claims (RR: 0.85, 95% CI: 0.78-0.92). Sex-stratified models showed larger differences for males than females, with older female out-of-province workers having elevated SI claim rates. Industry-specific models showed that, even in sectors with high proportions of out-of-province workers' claims, these workers have lower claim rates than within-province workers. Conclusions: Out-of-province workers generally have lower claim rates than within-province workers. The overall duration of work exposure, and underreporting or underclaiming, are factors that may explain these lower claim rates. Understanding the determinants and differences of these claim rates may improve the administration and adjudication of claims while also identifying where further prevention measures may be merited.
This article considers experiences of rhythmic change related to employment-related geographical mobilities in parts of the Canadian construction industry. Drawing on Lefebvrian rhythmanalysis and aspects of time-geography, we consider how workers and their loved ones negotiate changes in space-time patterns across careers in industrial construction, especially work at projects tied to resource development and extraction. Data are derived from in-depth career history interviews conducted with workers in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador between 2014 and 2018. Three “career path” cases illustrate mobile rhythms of differently positioned workers from their entry into construction to their career stage at the point of the interview, ranging from apprenticeship through mid-career journeyed to retirement. These workers pursue training and jobs involving variable mobilities between home and work across shifting locations. We contribute to recent efforts to highlight the compatibility of rhythmanalysis with an expanded, feminist, biographical approach to time-geography, and the applicability of such an approach for the applied study of mobilities. We also respond to recent calls to study experiences of rhythmic change in the lives of mobile and migrant workers. Findings reveal that changes in mobile rhythms may be small and incremental, as in the case of schedule or rotation adjustments, or sweeping and large scale, as in the case of shifts from working locally to working in distant locations amidst the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Experiences of disruption and responses to change are personal and familial, conditioned by social positions and subjectivities.
Members of the tourism workforce are a crucial resource, whose quality and quantity determine the success of tourism businesses and destinations. Yet, they are frequently subjected to social, psychological, and economic stressors which can result in isolation from destination communities or limited interest in participation in the tourism workforce. Both of these outcomes threaten the sustainability of tourism businesses and destinations, but more importantly create a working environment that can be unjust or unsafe for tourism workforce members. This study relies upon the community capitals framework to identify the resources that currently support the tourism workforce in an island community whose economic and social structure is heavily reliant upon tourism. Analysis of data from in-depth interviews and focus groups with thirty-seven tourism stakeholders reveals the social, cultural, human, and natural capital assets used to support a tourism workforce. An “investment portfolio” for these capitals offers development strategies that can be implemented to help sustain the tourism workforce.
Objectives To examine whether differences in work disability duration between out-of-province and within-province workers differed by industry and jurisdictional context. Methods Workers’ compensation data were used to identify comparable lost time, work-related injury and musculoskeletal disorder claims accepted in six Canadian jurisdictions between 2006 and 2015. Out-of-province workers were identified as workers who filed claims in a different provincial jurisdiction to their province of residence. Coarsened exact matching was used to match out-of-province workers with within-province workers based on observable characteristics. Quantile regression models were used to estimate differences in cumulative disability days paid between out-of-province workers and within-province workers at different percentiles in the disability distribution, adjusting for confounders. Results Compared with within-province workers, out-of-province workers were paid more disability days even after matching and adjusting on observable characteristics. Differences between the two groups of workers were observed for short-duration, medium-duration and long-duration claims (differences of 1.57, 6.39, 21.42, 46.43 days at the 25th, 50th, 75th and 90th percentiles, respectively). Industry-specific models showed that differences were largest in construction, transportation and warehousing, and mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction. Jurisdiction-specific models showed that differences were largest in the western provinces where out-of-province workers were concentrated in those sectors. Conclusions Out-of-province workers are a vulnerable group with respect to risk of longer work disability duration. Workers’ compensation systems, employers and healthcare providers may need to tailor specific interventions for these types of workers, particularly those employed in resource economy-dependent regions that are far from their regions of residence.
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Seafaring involves multiple patterns of mobility. Ships are mobile workplaces that connect and disconnect from land. Many move within and between national boundaries. Maritime labor forces are recruited from multiple locations engaging in varying commutes to and from homeports—international commutes for international labor forces and internal commutes for national labor forces. Mobilities expose seafarers to a range of occupational health and safety hazards, which can be exacerbated by mobility-related constraints on regulatory protections. Based on legal analysis and twenty-five semi-structured interviews with Canadian seafarers, managers, and key informants, this exploratory study examines how employment-related geographical mobility may create occupational health and safety challenges for Canadian seafarers working on the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway. Findings show that few legal instruments are available to protect seafarers from commuting-related occupational hazards and that occupational health and safety challenges are numerous. Seafarers’ occupational health and safety rights on board are restricted and they are systemically discouraged from raising safety concerns.
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Although much research has examined the occupational health and safety (OHS) and workers’ compensation (WC) implications of precarious employment and temporary international labor migration, little is known about the implications of diverse types of employment-related geographic mobility for regulatory effectiveness of OHS and WC. This article examines different types of extended mobility to determine regulatory effectiveness of OHS and WC protections. Based on classic legal analysis in seven Canadian jurisdictions, and interviews with key informants, we found that the invisibility of the internally mobile workforce, as well as the alternating visibility and invisibility of temporary foreign workers, contribute to reduced effectiveness of the OHS and WC regulation. Results point to the need for better protections to address working conditions, but also the hazards and challenges associated with mobility itself including getting to and from work, living at work, and maintaining work–life balance while living at the worksite.
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The spectrum of employment-related geographical mobility ranges from hours-long daily commutes to journeys that take workers away from home for an extended period of time. Although distance and travel conditions vary, there is a strong consensus within existing literature that mobility has physical, psychological, and social repercussions. However, is time spent traveling considered as working time? This question is crucial as it dictates whether or not workers can effectively access different sets of labor rights. The objective of this paper is twofold. First, contributing to a deeper understanding of travel time by offering a more sustained and complex representation of the various employment-related travel schemes. Second, assessing the circumstances under which travel time counts as work time with regard to the employment standards legislation in force in four Canadian provinces: Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, and British Colombia.
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Mobility and movement is an increasingly important part of work for many, however, Employment-Related Geographical Mobility (ERGM), defined as the extended movement of workers between places of permanent residence and employment, is relatively understudied among healthcare workers. It is critical to understand the policies that affect ERGM, and how they impact mobile healthcare workers. We outline four key intersecting policy contexts related to the ERGM of healthcare workers, focusing on the mobility of Registered Nurses (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Continuing Care Assistants (CCAs) in Nova Scotia: international labour mobility and migration; interprovincial labour mobility; provincial credential recognition; and, workplace and occupational health and safety.
In January 2013, SSEC Canada Ltd. pled guilty to three charges under Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety Act after two of its temporary foreign workers died and two more were seriously injured on the worksite. A fine of $1,225,000—the largest ever ordered in Alberta—was paid to the Alberta Law Foundation, which administered the funds to the Alberta Workers’ Health Centre to develop and provide the “New Alberta Workers program.” In this interview, Jared Matsunaga-Turnbull reflects on the program’s peer-to-peer Occupational Health and Safety workshops for new-to-Alberta workers to illustrate how “creative sentencing” related to serious Occupational Health and Safety violation convictions can play out. He discusses what the team learned about the particular work and life context and related needs of new-to-Alberta workers that created challenges and prompted program changes throughout the three-year workshop period. Finally, Jared considers what is needed to meaningfully support new-to-Alberta workers going forward.
This study examines the occupational health and safety experiences of migrant workers employed as live-in caregivers in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada. Interviews with and surveys of caregivers identify four categories of common occupational hazards, including fatigue, psychosocial stress, physical hazards, and exposure to harassment and abuse. These hazards are systemically perpetuated, made invisible, and rendered irremediable by intertwined (im)mobilities. At the macrolevel, they include highly circumscribed and precarious conditions of transnational care migration such as indenturing to private and underregulated recruiters, federal policies that tie status to employers and employment, and changeable, rule-bound pathways to permanent residency. At the mesolevel, we find a volatile mix of mobilities and immobilities associated with employment in the oil economy of Fort McMurray, such as high population mobility and turnover, long work and commuting hours, and remoteness. And, at the microlevel, we find the everyday immobilities and highly circumscribed conditions and complexities of working and living with employers in private homes.
This article reports on a study of occupational health and safety (OHS) challenges for temporary foreign workers (TFWs) in low- and high-skilled occupations, based on twenty-two cases drawn from a broader study in three Canadian provinces. Interviewees in construction, meat processing, hospitality, and fast food reported concerns regarding working conditions and OHS issues. They include precarious migration status affecting voice; contrasting access to social support; and mechanisms undermining regulatory effectiveness. Sources of vulnerability include closed work permits (making workers dependent on a single employer for job security and family reunification); ineffective means to ensure contractual compliance; and TFW invisibility attributable to their dispersal throughout the labor market. Violations include increased workload without an increase in pay and non-compliance with OHS and contractual rules without oversight. Positive and negative practices are discussed. Recommendations include improving migration security to preserve worker voice and facilitating communication between immigration and OHS authorities.
My research explores the labour conditions experienced by foreign nurses employed in health care in the province of Nova Scotia, Canada, on temporary permits. I draw on ethnographic interviews to understand the nuanced ways in which foreign nurses feel welcomed in their local communities and workplaces, yet simultaneously remain subject to hostile racialized scrutiny. Nova Scotia is one of the least ethnically diverse provinces in Canada and one of the most economically impoverished. It faces a shortage of healthcare workers, exacerbated by the ongoing restructuring of the healthcare sector. These contextual factors contribute to the complicated push-pull matrix discussed by the temporary foreign nurses, who feel needed, but not wanted. This matrix cannot be dismissed as simply the racism and “backwardness” of local communities. Rather, it must be understood through a political economy focus on temporary foreign workers, restructured health care, and the normalization of a precarious labour landscape in which racialized foreign and local workers are pitted against each other. Mes travaux de recherche portent sur les conditions de travail subies par les infirmiers et les infirmières étrangers de permis temporaire employés dans les soins de santé dans la province de la Nouvelle-Écosse, Canada. Je m’appuie sur des entretiens ethnographiques afin de saisir les façons nuancées dont les infirmiers étrangers se sentent bien accueillis dans leurs collectivités, et en même temps font encore l’objet d’un contrôle racialisé hostile. La Nouvelle-Écosse est l’une des provinces les moins diversifiées sur le plan ethnique au Canada, ainsi que l’une des provinces les plus économiquement démunies. Elle est en outre aux prises avec une pénurie de travailleurs de la santé, aggravée par la restructuration en cours dans le secteur de la santé. Ces facteurs contextuels contribuent à la matrice complexe du « pousser/tirer » examinée par les infirmiers étrangers temporaires qui se sentent nécessaires, mais non désirés. On ne peut écarter cette matrice comme s’il s’agissait simplement du racisme et du « retard » des collectivités locales. Elle doit plutôt être comprise en mettant l’accent à caractère de l’économie politique sur les travailleurs étrangers temporaires, les soins de santé restructurés, et la normalisation d’un marché du travail précaire dans lequel les travailleurs racialisés, étrangers et domestiques, sont dressés les uns contre les autres.
The connection between international education and immigration has drawn the attention of scholars interested in exploring how immigrants strategically use international education as a means to facilitate their migration projects, including their successful integration in their chosen countries of migration. My article contributes to this literature by focusing on the experiences of foreign nurses who enter Canada as international students enrolled in vocational nursing programs, subsequently transition to temporary work permits, and from there to permanent residence. I analyze the classed implications of this mode of entry, contrasting it with another popular form of temporary entrance: temporary foreign work programs. Vocational nursing education, as undertaken by these nurses, is the gateway through which they enter Canada, and the courses offering such education are deemed “worth” costly tuition fees only insofar as they provide a sound stepping stone to the next phase of migration. In this scenario, the connection between international education and immigration has become articulated to such a degree that vocational nursing education, having lost its original significance, is reframed as convenient “drive-by” for immigration, something to be gotten over in a quick and cursory manner, albeit offering significant benefits in terms of residence rights not available to temporary workers in other immigration categories. At the same time, the influx of foreign nurses is revitalizing vocational programs and contributing to the development of the region.