New Insights on COVID-19 and Rural Immigration

Date: February 10, 2022

Author: Ryan Gibson, Professor & Louis Helps, Masters Student at the University of Guelph

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on all sorts of rural systems, particularly those that involve vulnerable groups. New research published in the Journal of Rural and Community Development by Louis Helps (University of Guelph), Ray Silvius (University of Winnipeg), and Ryan Gibson (University of Guelph) offers a review of the pandemic’s effects on rural immigration systems.

Rural immigration presents a different set of needs from immigration in cities, reflecting the unique set of challenges and opportunities of rural life itself. This research describes how the pandemic has played out in these unique circumstances, from the struggles of migrant farm workers dealing with the direct health impacts of COVID-19 to the new challenges faced by rural immigrant settlement service organizations to meet the needs of their clients.

Perhaps most crucially, this research presents a need for increased examination of rural immigration, which is too often assumed to align with immigration to urban centres, or else forgotten about entirely. COVID-19 has had this effect of bringing countless long-ignored problems to public attention. The research calls for this scrutiny to be maintained and not forgotten as we move towards a post-pandemic reality.

The full publication, ‘Vulnerable, Inequitable, and Precarious: Impacts of COVID-19 on Newcomers, Immigrants, And Migrant Workers in Rural Canada’, is available free online. The latest issue of the Journal of Rural and Community Development focuses on the impacts of COVID-19 to rural communities across Canada, including a publication on the Rural Ontario Institute’s Rural Rebound initiative.