Our Active Projects

Project Manager: Josée Latulippe

Partner Organization: Association francophone à l’éducation des services à l’enfance de l’Ontario (Aféseo)

Funding Agency: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada

Duration: Spring 2020 to Fall 2021

Professional and Cultural Isolation in the Early Childhood Sector in Francophone Ontario

This project will identify the best practices for mitigating the negative effects of social distancing and professional and cultural isolation in the early childhood sector in Francophone Ontario due to the COVID-19 pandemic and, indirectly, contribute to the retention of personnel in the sector. Just like social isolation, professional and cultural isolation can have harmful impacts on the health of the workers and by consequence, on the health of the organizations themselves. Using a mixed-method evaluation, the research team is studying the effectiveness of virtual professional learning communities as a strategy to mitigate the negative impacts of social distancing and professional and cultural isolation.

Among the expected outcomes of the project is the implementation of best practices in the field of early childhood that could also be adapted to other sectors and crises. The improvement in the well-being, sense of belonging, motivation and engagement of these professionals will also help with retention in a sector that was already facing a labour shortage pre-COVID-19.

Key Words: Early Childhood, Francophone Ontario, COVID-19, Pandemic, Social Distancing, Professional Isolation, Cultural Isolation, Retention, Virtual Community

In Northern Ontario, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in heightened consumer demand for locally grown and produced foods. Meeting this demand is proving difficult as agri-businesses face numerous pandemic-induced challenges including labour shortages and limited retail marketplaces. Despite these challenges, many agri-businesses are finding innovative ways to facilitate consumer access to their products, including leveraging social media, enhancing local food initiatives, and launching online stores and e-platforms.

The objective of this applied research collaboration is to rapidly identify the emerging needs of Northern Ontario agri-businesses and provide enhanced support for production, distribution, marketing activities during the pandemic and evidence-informed recommendations and business strategies for agri-businesses and policy-makers to ensure economic stability and food security in the post-pandemic period.

As part of the project, the research team developed an interactive online map of Northern Ontario that lists which agri-businesses are still open during the COVID-19 pandemic, and includes information such as location, websites and services and products. The map created using ArcGIS Online will continue to be updated as the agri-food network evolves and changes in Northern Ontario.

Access the map here.

The research team also developed a survey that will help us quickly identify the emerging needs of agri-food businesses in Northern Ontario. The results will allow partner organizations to quickly position their respective services to 1) enhance supports for production, distribution, and marketing activities during the pandemic; and 2) provide evidence-informed recommendations and business strategies for agri-businesses and policymakers in the post-pandemic period.

The survey is now closed. Access the survey results here.

Check back soon for more descriptions of ongoing projects!