Lakehead Orillia researchers receiving COVID-19-related research grants

Will partner with North Simcoe Victim Services and Caribbean African Canadian Social Services Inc.

from Lakehead University

Two Lakehead University Orillia researchers are receiving Partnership Engage Grants of approximately $25,000 each for research connected with COVID-19, from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Dr. Natalya Timoshkina, Associate Professor in the School of Social Work, and two graduate students will partner with North Simcoe Victim Services for one year to examine the impact of COVID-19 on service provision to persons who have experienced human trafficking.

“Human trafficking, or trafficking in persons, is a gross violation of human rights and a serious crime,” Dr. Timoshkina said.

It involves the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons by means of threat, use of force, abduction, debt bondage, fraud, deception, the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability, or other forms of coercion for the ultimate purpose of exploitation, typically in the sex industry or for forced labour.

“Millions of people are trafficked annually around the globe, with thousands of them in Canada,” she said.

“Two-thirds of the nation’s police-reported trafficking in persons violations occur in Ontario. Within the province, Simcoe County, home to Lakehead Orillia, is a hot spot for sex trafficking and labour trafficking, making it a strategic ground for systemic TIP responses,” Dr. Timoshkina said.

Dr. Olakunle Akingbola, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Business Administration, will partner with Caribbean African Canadian Social Services Inc. (CAFCAN) for one year to research COVID-19 and remote work in non-profit organizations, including employee well-being and community outcomes.

“The primary goal of our partnership is to understand how, why, and under what circumstances CAFCAN adopted remote work during and after COVID-19 and the consequences for employee well-being and the community,” Dr. Akingbola said.

Specifically, the partnership seeks to investigate the characteristics of remote work at CAFCAN during COVID-19 and understand how employees perceive the remote work that they experience.

Researchers will also explore the factors contributing to the adoption of remote work at CAFCAN after COVID-19, the benefits and unintended consequences for employees and the community.

Dr. Akingbola and his team, which will include one graduate and one undergraduate student will explain the relationship between the context when remote work is experienced, the resources and policy implications of remote work; and examine the competencies, tools and support mechanisms that employees and the organization will need to manage remote work in a non-profit.

“The need to examine and understand the underlying factors and consequences of remote work during and after COVID-19 is accentuated in a non-profit such as CAFCAN because employees provide social and emotionally intensive services to clients,” he said.

“There are multiple stakeholders with divergent and sometimes opposing interests such as community activists, volunteers and employees working together for the organization, and non-profit employees are attracted to the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the clients.”

Dr. Andrew P. Dean, Lakehead’s Vice-President, Research and Innovation, said he was pleased that SSHRC recognized both of these researchers and their important work.

“We would like to thank the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for their support for these Partnership Engage Grants,” Dr. Dean said.

“These two special COVID-19 Partnership Engage Grants are timely, and emphasize how research in the social sciences is important to understand the multiple ways that COVID-19 is impacting our society.” 

In 2019/20, Lakehead University received nearly $2 million in assistance from the Research Support Fund to support the indirect costs of research, which includes costs for supporting the management of intellectual property, research and administration, ethics and regulatory compliance, research resources, and research facilities.