A study of homelessness and migration in northern rural and urban centres in the Near North, Ontario, Canada, using GIS techniques

Naeem, Rahat (2020) A study of homelessness and migration in northern rural and urban centres in the Near North, Ontario, Canada, using GIS techniques. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


Homelessness, migration and poverty in Northern Ontario, Canada are serious issues. In order to facilitate development of policy that effectively addresses these problems, a long-term Community-University Research Alliance at Laurentian University, Sudbury, Canada was initiated. The present research was conducted on the data gathered through this initiative with a goal of understanding pathways to homelessness in Northern Ontario. Data gathered in five communities (Sudbury, Timmins, Hearst, Cochrane, Moosonee) between the years 2001 and 2012 were analyzed. It was found that these communities, though located in the same province of Ontario, suffered from pathways to homelessness that were different from one another. These differences result from many factors including concentration of different ethnicities in different localities as well as non-uniform availability of education, employment and health facilities. For example, high rate of unemployment in Moosonee results in migration to larger cities such as Timmins and Sudbury, which sometimes leads to homelessness as these cities themselves do not have proper support structures and resources available to help these migrants. An interesting phenomenon observed during the analysis was that there is a trend of individuals migrating out in search of employment, becoming unsuccessful in securing employment, returning their home town and then becoming homeless. This was seen across the board in all five communities, which points to the scarcity of proper support structure and resources. An index of homelessness was also constructed during this study based on the variables that were seen to have the highest impact on homelessness. For this Fuzzy Cognitive Mapping approach was adopted. It resulted in separate equations for homelessness in the five communities studied and indicated the spatial dependence of pathways to homelessness. The main result that has come out of this study is that different communities in Northern Ontario, even though they are not very far apart from one another, have their unique challenges when it comes to homelessness, migration and poverty and therefore a uniform policy across the whole of Northern Ontario will not be an effective way to address these problems. The framework developed in this study to determine if a particular individual is at-risk of becoming homeless can be beneficial in formulating effective policy and strategy.

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