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.
Statistics Canada Fact Sheets - Coming Soon.
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.