On the Move: Employment-related Geographical Mobility in the Canadian Context

Employment-related geographical mobility entails extended travel and related absences from places of permanent residence for the purpose of, and as part of, employment. A substantial but hard-to-document number of Canadian employees work in different municipalities, provinces or even countries from those in which they live and are away from their primary residence for substantial amounts of time above and beyond working hours. Large numbers of non-Canadians are employed as Temporary Foreign workers in Canada. Existing research on employment- related geographical mobility in Canada is limited and fragmented. It shows that it takes diverse forms and is likely affecting key domains of Canadian life.

These domains include: labour recruitment, training requirements, absenteeism, turn-over and broader social relations at work; requirements for, and effectiveness of, key infrastructure (e.g., housing, health, transportation, training); the effectiveness of policy and planning at the municipal, provincial and federal levels; work-life balance and spousal and parent-child relations within families; and (through its impact on investments and consumption patterns) regional economic and community development.

But we know little about its diverse and changing patterns and its actual consequences at work, home and in the community. We also know little about how changes in mobility patterns relate to larger-scale changes in the nature of work, competitiveness and prosperity.

This E-RGM research partnership researchers and partners will track regional, sectoral and socio-demographic patterns and trends in this mobility since 1980 as well as the changing policies that have contributed to it and its consequences.

Researcher will work in seven provinces and multiple industrial sectors (oil and gas, mining, smelting, retail service, health, construction, transportation and shipping), will carry out in-depth field research among employers, employees and their families, community leaders, and service agencies. They will track their experiences with such mobility, its role in their larger strategies and assess its ultimate consequences for these different groups in different contexts. Researchers will also carry out on-line surveys with human resource managers, union shop stewards and small business owners (among others). We will include new entrants to different types of mobility and those who have exited for different reasons; males and females; those engaged in skilled, less-skilled, professional and managerial jobs; and both Canadian and non-Canadian employees.

The E-RGM research initiative is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Research and Development Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador, Memorial University of Newfoundland and numerous other universities, partner groups and community organizations in Canada and elsewhere.

For more information on this project visit http://www.onthemovepartnership.ca/.

Research Team

The E-RGM project includes a diverse group of researchers. Only a few researchers are listed below, including several Rural Resilience Research Group members:

  • Barb Neis, Department of Sociology and Principal Investigator, Memorial University
  • Kelly Vodden, Environmental Policy Institute, Memorial University and Co-Lead of NL component
  • Nicole Power, Department of Sociology, Memorial University and Co-Lead of NL component
  • Heather Hall, Department of Geography, Memorial University
  • Rob Greenwood, Leslie Harris Centre for Regional Policy and Development, Memorial University
  • Joshua Barrett, Department of Geography, Memorial University

Project Resources