Published March 28, 2019 | Version v1
Journal article Open

There and Back Again: How Labour Mobility Impacts Community Development in Source Communities

  • 1. Department of Geography Memorial University of Newfoundland



Across Canada, mobile workers are involved in a variety of commute patterns, ranging from short, daily periods of travel by car, to longer commutes lasting an hour or more each way. Increased emphasis on labour mobility within the social sciences over the past two decades has led to new understandings of how the commute impacts workers and families, although there has been particularly little noted on how labour mobility impacts communities. Using Vale’s nickel processing facility in Long Harbour, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada as a case study, this research identifies how labour mobility impacts community development in source communities. Literature has suggested that people involved with extended daily commuting have less time to be actively involved in the communities where they reside (source communities). While there are exceptions, this research primarily supports these claims, and discusses howmobile workers that commute over 50km to their worksite are less involved in volunteering, community engagement, and charitable giving in their source communities.


This research is part of the multi-year On the Move: Employment-Related Geographical Mobility project and benefitted from the financial contributions of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and Memorial University of Newfoundland



Additional details


  • Abusabha, R., and Woelfel, M. L. (2003). Qualitative vs quantitative methods: Two opposites that make a perfect match. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 103(5), 566-9.
  • Barber, L. (2016). Construction-phase extended commuting and uneven regional development: Work, households and communities in Newfoundland and Labrador's new extractive economy. The Extractive Industries and Society, 3(3),640-8.
  • Barrett, J., & Gibson, R., (2013). Charitable giving and volunteering in Canada and the Atlantic region: A review of secondary data. Memorial University, St. John's NL.
  • Barrett, J. (2017). Commuters and Communities: The Social and Economic Impacts of Labour Mobility on Source Communities. Masters thesis, Memorial University, St. John's NL.
  • Bavington, D. and Kay, J. (2007). Ecosystem-Based Insights on Northwest Atlantic Fisheries in an Age of Globalization. In M. Schechter, W. Taylor and L. Wolfson (Eds). Globalization: Effects on Fisheries Resources. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 331-63.
  • Bertotti, M., Harden, A., and Renton, A. (2012). The contribution of social enterprise to the building of social capital in a disadvantaged urban area of London. Community Development Journal, 47(2), 168-83.
  • Besser, T. L., and Ryan, V. D. (2000). The impact of labour market involvement on participation in community. Community Development Society Journal, 31(1), 72-88.
  • Bissell, D. (2015). Understanding the impacts of commuting: Research report for stakeholders. Australian National University: Canberra.
  • Bogdan, R. C., and Biklen, S. K. (2006). Qualitative Research for Education: An Introduction to Theories and Methods (5th edition). New York:
  • Pearson. Carrington, K., Hogg, R., and McIntosh, A. (2011). The resource boom's underbelly: Criminological impacts of mining development. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 44(3), 335-54.
  • Clerkin, R. M., Paarlberg, L. E., Christensen, R. K., Nesbit, R. A., and Tschirhart, M. (2013). Place, time, and philanthropy: Exploring geographic mobility andphilanthropic engagement. Public Administration Review, January/February, 97-106.
  • Clifford, J. (1997). Routes: Travel and Translation in the Later Twentieth Century. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Cresswell, J. W. (2015). A Concise Introduction to Mixed Methods Research. Universityof Michigan.
  • Dembe, A. E., Erickson, J. B., Delbos, R. G., and Banks, S. M. (2005). The impact of overtime and long work hours on occupational injuries and illnesses: Newevidence from the United States. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 62, 588-597.
  • Devins, D., and Hogarth, T. (2005). Employing the unemployed: Some case study evidence on the role and practice of employers. Urban Studies, 42(2), 245-56.
  • Diaz-Puente, J. M., Montero, A. C., and De los Rios Carmendo, I. (2009). Empowering communities through evaluation: some lessons from rural Spain. Community Development Journal, 44(1), 53-67.
  • Esteves, A. M. (2008). Mining and social development: Refocusing community investing using multi-criteria decision analysis. Resources Policy, 33: 39-47.
  • Ezzedeen, S. R., and Zikic, J. (2015). Finding balance amid boundarylessness: An interpretive study of entrepreneurial work-life balance and boundary management.Journal of Family Issues, 1-17.
  • Ferguson, N. (2011). From coal pits to tar sands: Labour migration between Atlantic Canadian Region to the Athabasca Oil Sands. Just Labour: A Canadian Journal of Work and Society, 17/18: 106-18.