Families, Mobility, and Work National Symposium

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Families in Canada are diverse and continually adapting to the realities of a changing labour market, including sectoral shifts in employment and the growth in mobile and precarious work. Working family members are increasingly engaged in diverse forms of employment-related geographic mobility (E-RGM). This mobility includes (but is not limited to) extended and complex daily or less frequent commutes to a regular place of work, or transient, mobile, and remote worksites. Working in other regions, provinces, and countries often results in prolonged absences from home.

The Families, Mobility, and Work National Symposium will examine intersections between diverse families, work situations, and E-RGM in the Canadian context. Various research has documented the challenges associated with some types of work-related mobility (such as long-distance commuting or short but lengthy daily commutes) for some kinds of families (professionals or migrants performing jobs in unskilled positions). However, little attention has been paid to different types of families engaged in the full spectrum of E-RGM in the Canadian labour market.

The symposium will bring together researchers studying the intersectionality between families, mobility for work, work organization, and work scheduling in multiple sectors and regions of the country with interested policy and civil society leaders to encourage dialogue, synthesize results, and lay the foundation for a national program of research focused on these intersections.

Some potential themes for discussion include:

  1. How does parenting and child care, caregiving, and elder care or care for persons with disabilities impact E-RGM, and how are care relationships impacted by extended absence due to mobility for work?
  2. How have employers accommodated family status with scheduling in response to extended absences?
  3. How are service providers – doctors, nurses, therapists, physiotherapists, early childhood educators, care providers, and spiritual advisors, for example – changing their practices in order to try to best meet the needs of the people they serve who engage in extended commuting for work?
  4. What role does work-related mobility play in family planning, conception/fertility, and parenthood?
  5. In what ways do precarious employment or atypical work schedules combine with work-related mobility to impact the familial and individual well-being of mobile workers?
  6. How does mobility impact the communities that mobile workers live in/leave from and work in/go to and how does this reverberate back to impact their families?
  7. How does coming to Canada for temporary work impact the families and family lives of international labour migrants, both in Canada and in the country of origin?

This symposium is being organized with support from the SSHRC-funded On the Move Partnership, in collaboration with the Vanier Institute of the Family, the University of Ottawa, and Memorial University of Newfoundland. We invite participation and partnership with other research programs and groups, including those in government and civil society, who are interested in enhancing our understanding of how work/employment and families interact with, have an impact on, and are affected by E-RGM. Funding for the symposium is being sought through an SSHRC Connections Grant.