COVID-19 & Rural Labour Markets: Understanding the Relationships Between Economic and Social Disruptions and its Role on Mental health

Burke, Randi
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University of Guelph

COVID-19 has caused enormous economic and social disruptions that may have lasting effects on employment, income, and working conditions. Concurrently, the diversity and complexity of the labour market have been highlighted, resulting in the need for responses from various disciplines. Often, a policy is based on data collected from large urban centres, neglecting the experience of those from rural and small-town communities. To ensure that policy developed appropriately reflects the realities of all residents, it is critical to ensure that data is collected from rural and small-town communities. This project examines the landscape of COVID-19 in rural and small-town labour markets, particularly the challenges associated with the current and anticipated imbalance in economic activity and the relationship it plays on mental health. Employing a mixed-methods, case-study research design, this report will present data collected from across Huron and Perth Counties, contributing to knowledge generation about mental health services available to employers and employees within rural and small-town communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Results highlight the relationship between labour market demands and individual mental health at multiple stages of the workplace (i.e., owner, employee). Results from this research can be used to inform policy and program decisions to support the most appropriate aid possible for rural and small-town communities in relation to their mental health.

COVID-19, Labour market, Mental Health, Rural