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REF NO.: 51

SUBJECT: Memorial University public forum to explore impact of long-distance commuting
DATE: Nov. 30, 2012


An upcoming Memorial Presents public policy forum will explore the social and economic consequences for Newfoundland and Labrador communities of workers travelling long distances to and from work.

On the Move: The Consequences of Long-Distance Commuting will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 4, beginning at 7:30 p.m., Newfoundland Standard Time, in Innovation Hall in the Bruneau Centre for Innovation and Research (previously known as the Inco Innovation Centre), on Memorial’s St. John’s campus.

All are welcome to attend, and the event will be webcast live on the Harris Centre website,www.mun.ca/harriscentre.

The event will be introduced by Memorial professor Dr. Barb Neis, project director for the international Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council-funded On the Move Partnership. Along with Dr. Neis, a panel of international experts will highlight relevant lessons from elsewhere, and will explore what the census can tell us about these “shadow populations”, and introduce the potential human resource, work-life balance, employment equity, occupational health, policy and community development issues associated with different kinds of employment-related mobility.        

Presenters will include:

• Sara Dorow, sociologist, University of Alberta

• Pauline Gardiner Barber, anthropologist, Dalhousie University

• Michael Haan, sociologist, University of New Brunswick

• Greg Halseth, geographer, University of Northern British Columbia

• Martha MacDonald, economist, Saint Mary's University

• Nora Spinks, chief executive officer, Vanier Institute of the Family

• David Walters, public policy, Cardiff University


Many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are travelling long distances to get to work – commuting to Western and Central Canada, or abroad – and often living away from home for long periods. Meanwhile, in the province, some people spend two or more hours a day in their cars getting to and from work; others are absent for weeks at a time living in remote camps, rental accommodations, with friends, in their trucks or onboard ships and planes.

The same trend is also happening in reverse, with a growing number of workers from elsewhere commuting into the province for work, often staying for prolonged periods.

Newfoundland and Labrador’s aging labour force, increased housing costs, anticipated labour shortages and related megaprojects are likely to accelerate reliance on employment-related commuting in the coming years. With so many workers coming and going from the province, what implications does this have for employers, families, home and host communities? This Memorial Presents event will look at these and other issues surrounding a mobile workforce.

Admission and parking are free. A reception will follow the forum. 

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