THE URBAN EXODUS: UNDERSTANDING THE IMPACTS OF MIGRATION TO RURAL ONTARIO AS A RESULT OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Project Timeline: May 2022 - April 2024
Research Team: Sara Epp, Ryan Gibson, Christopher Fullerton
Graduate Students: Aimi Shimada, Heather Graham
A notable outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ontario has been an increased migration of
urban/suburban residents to rural communities. For some, this migration was prompted by the
pandemic-induced creation of telecommuting opportunities and the ability to work remotely. For others,
this movement was linked to retirement, second home ownership, or simply a desire to escape the
city/suburbs. While this new migration has resulted in population growth and new economic
opportunities, it has also added pressure to existing rural infrastructure, reduced housing
supply/affordability, and raised concerns about the adequacy of local healthcare services. The broader
impacts/long-term outcomes of this migration, including retention rates, social wellbeing, and land uses
conflicts are unknown. This study seeks to understand the immediate and longer-term impacts of this
COVID-era rural migration and to identify needs and opportunities for rural communities regarding
housing, infrastructure, labour, healthcare, and land use planning, among others, throughout Ontario.
This study has the following objectives:
1. To support rural communities and rural stakeholders within Ontario.
2. To gauge the current situation regarding COVID-induced urban-to-rural migration in central, eastern,
southwestern and northern Ontario.
3. To better understand the impacts of increased urban-to-rural migration.
4. To identify best practices for rural municipalities, OMAFRA and other provincial ministries, and rural
stakeholders regarding the management of urban-to-rural migration.
5. To support the capacity building and skill set development of graduate students.
Statistics Canada Fact Sheets
Impact of COVID-19 Workforce Teleworking on Businesses and Organizations Across Different Industries