Research Projects

Current Ongoing Projects:

Evaluating the Wiiji app to improve Indigenous workplace mental health: a mixed methods approach

Description: Through CIHR's strategic initiative Catalyst Grant – Mental Health Hackathon, we designed an Indigenous e-mental health intervention for the communities of the Nokiiwin Tribal Council to assist Indigenous workers in coping with lateral violence within the workplace – the Wiiji app. In Ojibway, Wiiji means "to help". The app is designed to provide resources regarding mental health, as well as provide a peer-support network for Indigenous workers. Supported workers may be better at coping with negative situations in the workplace. The next step is to implement the app in a strategic fashion to evaluate its effectiveness in improving workplace mental health (WMH) for Indigenous workers.

Objectives: The general objective of this project is to evaluate the effectiveness of the Wiiji app to enhance Indigenous WMH. The primary object is to determine the association between the use of the Wiiji app and WMH in an Indigenous working population. We hypothesize that the more a worker uses the app, the more supported they will feel, resulting in improved WMH.

Funded By: CIHR
Project Lead: Dr. Vicki Kristman

Workplace, supervisor, worker, and accommodation factors associated with workers' compensation outcomes: An Ecologic study

Description: Our primary aim is to determine the association between workplace-level organizational, supervisor and worker characteristics, accommodation factors and the duration of lost-time claims.
Objectives: The general objective of the proposed study is to determine which factors at the workplace-level (organizational, supervisor and worker characteristics, and mental health accommodation factors) are associated with workers' compensation outcomes.

Funded By: Workers' Compensation Board of Manitoba
Project Lead: Dr. Vicki Kristman

Bullying purposefully left out? Canada's amended Labour Code and its potential impact on First Nations workers

Description: The proposed research on bullying behaviours experienced at work by the First Nations population has been largely overlooked by existing research on bullying at work and on the legislative and legal response to it. This study is timely in Canada and will contribute significantly to the literature on workplace bullying, violence, racism and harassment. Currently, a knowledge gap exists in our understanding of how employers define negative behaviour in the workplace - is it simply defined as bullying or is it recognized as violence, harassment or racism? Do employers/supervisors/health and safety representatives simply disregard negative behaviours at work that have consequences under Canada's Labour Code? How does this information get recorded at work given the recent amendments to Canada's Labour Code to include violence and harassment in the workplace?

Objectives: to understand if workers (First Nations, immigrant workers and non-Indigenous workers) have experienced negative behaviour in the workplace, and how the behaviour was defined by their supervisors.

Funded By: MITACS Elevate Postdoctoral Fellowship Award
Project Lead: Dr. Robyn O'Loughlin

Understanding labour force participation, work productivity and disability from the Indigenous perspective: a partnership with the Nokiiwin Tribal Council

Description: What is known from the existing literature to improve labour force participation, work engagement, work productivity, and absenteeism through interventions (broadly speaking, workplace or policy change, etc.) addressing the following factors:

  1. Global work safety
  2. Safety climate and culture
  3. Interpersonal conflict at work
  4. Family-work conflict (including bereavement)
  5. Job stress (workload, multiple roles)
  6. Supervisor and co-worker support

Objectives: The overall goal of this project is to identify opportunities to increase the labour force participation, productivity, and disability prevention of the Indigenous population in Canada by developing culturally-sensitive policies and interventions. Specific objectives of this project include: determining the labour market participation of individuals; assessing the productivity levels of working individuals through measures of work engagement and presenteeism; ascertaining the levels of work disability within working individuals through measures of absenteeism; determining the association between workplace factors and labour market participation, productivity, and disability; and preliminarily identifying and developing interventions that will have the greatest impact in improving the labour market participation, productivity, and disability prevention; all within the communities of the Nokiiwin Tribal Council.

Funded By: SSHRC
Project Lead: Dr. Vicki Kristman

Bullying and Lateral Violence in the workplace: Experiences from Nokiiwin Tribal Council community members

Description: This study is a part of a larger project with the Nokiiwin Tribal Council. The larger project aims to help Nokiiwin community members pinpoint community-specific issues in workplace safety, bullying, and/or lateral violence that can be worked through as part of the healing process, and as part of Canada's truth and reconciliation process towards equity in the health and safety of Indigenous people.

This current study evolved from the preliminary findings of our Partnership Development Grant project with Nokiiwin: "Understanding labour force participation, work productivity and disability from an Indigenous perspective: a partnership with Nokiiwin Tribal Council". In this project, we conducted surveys with Nokiiwin community members to measure the frequency of interpersonal conflict — a type of job stressor — within their workplaces. This stressor was measured using the Interpersonal Conflict at Work Scale (ICWS). The ICWS measures how well a respondent gets along with others at work, how often they get into arguments with others, and how often others act negatively towards the respondent (1). Findings from this project were used to develop the relevant data capturing questions for our current study.

(1) Spector PE. Overview of the ICAWS, OCS, QWI, and PSI [Internet]. 2011 [cited 2019 Oct 11]. Available from: http://shell.cas.usf.edu/~pspector/scales/sscaledesc.html

Objectives: The purpose of this study is to examine how bullying and/or lateral violence impacts the health and wellbeing of Indigenous workers. Through individual interviews or focus groups with Nokiiwin Tribal Council community members, we aim to better understand the impact of bullying and /or lateral violence at work. The content of these interviews or focus groups will be recorded, transcribed and analyzed using a grounded theory approach. Findings from this analysis will determine how bullying or lateral.

Funded By: Lakehead University Indigenous Research Capacity Development Grant
Project Lead: Dr. Vicki Kristman

Tradeswomen: Potential concerns of bullying, violence and harassment in BC and Alberta

Description: When it comes to skilled trades, excluding cooks and hairstylists, women account for just 4.5% of the workforce. In the Canadian demographic, women are underrepresented in apprenticeship programs and in the skills trades generally. A study conducted by the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, a trade and industry association, found that "since males dominate the workforce, they also dominate the culture". Women working in a male-dominated workforce are more likely to face instances of workplace bullying and harassment. When bullying occurs in the workplace, a worker's mental health is impacted.

Objectives: The objective of this project is to understand how organizational climate and culture influence the impact of bullying and harassment in the workplace on the mental health and wellbeing of women who are employed in the trade sectors of BC and AB.

Funded By: WorkSafeBC Innovation at Work Program
Project Lead: Dr. Vicki Kristman

Improving workplace wellness and work disability outcomes in Northern populations

Description: Persons with disabilities have lower participation rates in the labour force than those without. Northern Ontario has greater work disability durations than Southern Ontario, indicating that this is a current, important problem for Northern communities. This problem can only be addressed through transdisciplinary collaboration; which is possible and feasible between LU and UMD.

Objectives: Five primary research partnership development activities are proposed, including meetings, workshops (x2), drafting a SSHRC Stage 1 Partnership Grant application; and drafting a SSHRC Stage 2 Partnership Grant.
Funded By: Lakehead University Vice-President of Research and Innovation Award

Project Lead: Dr. Vicki Kristman

Mixed methods study of Immigrant parents' perceptions of factors contributing to and of strategies to prevent unintentional injuries in children in Northern and Rural Ontario

Description: Immigrant parents may have a different understanding of children's risk of injury and awareness of prevention strategies. This study will (a) explore immigrant parents' knowledge and beliefs of the factors contributing to the risk of unintentional injury to children and the strategies that they can use to prevent such injuries (Phase one) and (b) examine the acceptability of injury prevention programs for immigrant parents (Phase two). The target population will be immigrant parents in northern and rural Ontario. Parents are eligible to take part in this study if they have immigrated to Canada, and they have one child or children who are 18 years old or less. The results will generate knowledge that enriches our understanding of immigrant parents' beliefs and perceptions about the risk for and prevention of unintentional injuries in northern and rural Ontario.

Objectives: To explore immigrant parents' knowledge and beliefs of the factors contributing to the risk of unintentional injury to children and the strategies that they can use to prevent such injuries (Phase one) and (b) to examine the acceptability of injury prevention programs for immigrant parents (Phase two).

Funded By: SSHRC
Project Lead: Dr. Manal Alzghoul

The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health and well-being of educators in Yukon

Description: This qualitative research project aims to explore how the COVID-19 pandemic and associated changes to the delivery of education have impacted the health and well-being of educators in Yukon.

Objectives: Our main objective is to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic and associated changes to the delivery of education have impacted the health and well-being of educators in Yukon. The following research sub-questions serve to refine the central research question:

  • How have new or adjusted activities, events, policies, or procedures impacted educators' physical, emotional, and mental health and well-being?
  • What were the consequences of Yukon's public health measures, the Department of Education's pandemic response, and schools' adapted operations for educators?
  • What were the most significant challenges experienced when navigating the pandemic changes?
  • What specific actions, interactions, social processes, supports, policies, or procedures mitigated adverse effects on health and well-being?
  • How has the delivery of culturally inclusive school programming been affected by the pandemic?
  • How do the experiences of urban educators compare to rural educators?
  • How do the experiences of Department of Education decision-makers, administrators, elementary teachers, high school teachers, and educational assistants differ?

Funded By: Yukon Government COVID-19 Recovery Program
Project Lead: Dr. Vicki Kristman

COVID-19 and policing in Ontario: preparing for future pandemics.

Description: The COVID-19 pandemic underscored that many nations were ill-prepared to respond to a contagious,life-threatening virus. However, this event has given cause and opportunity to conduct the research necessary to assist community partners now and future generations in their preparedness for pandemics.
Objectives: The goals of the project are to produce a report that documents the effects of the pandemic on policing in Ontario, and a Pandemic Policing Policy Framework for Canadian police services in future pandemics.

These outputs will answer the following questions:

  1. How did distributions of police calls for service and police work change during the pandemic?
  2. How was officer wellness (e.g., sick days, leave) affected by the pandemic?
  3. What policies did police services adopt in response to the pandemic?

Project Lead: Dr. Alana Saulnier
Funded By: SSHRC

Evaluation of the WSN Safe Driving on Forest Roads Training Program.

Description: One of the major challenges facing the forest industry is a shifting demographic, many of the experienced drivers are transitioning to retirement and there is now an influx of new drivers, many of whom do not have experience driving on forest roads. The logging workplace risk assessment, which was completed in November 2017, identified distracted driving as the top risk for the sector.

Objectives: The primary objective of the proposed study is to quantify the effect of a Safe Driving on Forest Roads training program on self-reported forest road driving behaviour and forest road driving knowledge. A secondary objective is to conduct a process evaluation to determine the reach, compliance, appreciation, usage barriers, and users' perceived effectiveness of the training program.

Funded By: WSN Contract
Project Lead: Dr. Vicki Kristman

Emotional abuse at work: an international partnership

Description: Partnership development between the University of Helsinki (Finland) and Lakehead University (Thunder Bay, ON)
Objectives: The formalization of this partnership will include developing a Memorandum of Understanding as well as building a research team to be positioned to apply for international funding.

Funded By: Lakehead University Vice-President of Research and Innovation Award
Project Lead: Dr. Kathy Sanderson

Transitioning to future of work: an intersectional study of vulnerable youth and young adults.

Description: It is unclear how different driving forces that characterize the future of work affect the transition into the labour market for youth and young adults. In the proposed study, we define the transition to work as the work-related changes that characterize the early career phase such as finding paid work, sustaining employment and career advancement (e.g., evolving work roles, skills and expertise related to the availability and type of employment).Also important is that the transition to work is not a uniform process. Some workers may be more likely to face disadvantage within the labour market. Groups, including women, visible minorities, immigrants, people living with disabilities, LGBTQ2+, or those with low socioeconomic status historically have been underrepresented in the workforce, and are more likely to report job insecurity, earning lower wages, and lacking access to regulatory benefits. Belonging to more than one of these vulnerable groups can result in intersecting challenges that exacerbate labour market inequities. Yet, there remains a paucity of research on how the future of work poses challenges and opportunities for different groups of young people.

Objectives:

  1. To determine how young people belonging to different social groups (e.g., gender, visible minority, sexuality, disability, immigration status, socioeconomic status) experience the transition into the labour market including finding and sustaining employment and career advancement?
  2. To determine how the driving forces that characterize the future of work (e.g., technological adoption, sociodemographic shifts, globalization and ecological changes) affect a young person's perceptions regarding their transition into work and career opportunities?
  3. To determine, within the context of the future of work, how transitional work experiences differ for young people facing labour market vulnerability when compared to those not facing labour market vulnerability?

Funded By: SSHRC
Project Lead: Monique Gignac

Workers Compensation Experience Study

Description: Resources to support individuals involved in the WSIB are limited, particularly in Northern Ontario, potentially creating or worsening the psychological illness that brought people to the WSIB to begin with. The purpose of the Workers Compensation Experience study is to describe the mental health and social service needs of injured and ill workers in Thunder Bay and District involved in the WSIB process. To do this, 16 Injured/ill workers and 12 community service providers will be recruited to complete interviews about the needs of workers in the WSIB process. Forty additional injured/ill workers will also complete surveys on-line about their WSIB experience. This will help us to identify gaps, quality issues, and to inform future service improvements and developments.

Objectives: To describe the mental health and social service needs of injured and ill workers in Thunder Bay and District involved in the WSIB process
Funded By: Injured Workers Community Legal Clinic - IWC
Project Lead: Dr. Deb Scharf

Emotional Abuse: Violations of Workplace Psychological Safety

Description: As part of a research partnership with the University of Helsinki, this research project is exploring the facets of emotional abuse in the workplace. The project has collected over 70 qualitative interviews from Canada, United States, Finland and the UK with targets of emotional abuse at work. Areas of exploration include abusive supervision, mental health strain, and workplace stigma.

Objectives:

  1. For small business owners who are health and safety champions, what are the motivations, rationalizations, and perceived and known benefits of their actions?
  2. What do small business owners perceive as the barriers to addressing health and safety issues and how would working in partnership with the local safety system increase health and safety practice adoption and improve the organizational safety climate?
  3. Does the delivery of an intentionally designed intervention change the view of the employer and employees on the value of health and safety systems?

Funded By: Lakehead University VPRI Strategic fund and VPRI International Research Partnership Award
Project Lead: Dr. Kathy Sanderson