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A drawing of planet Earth in space, with spikes emanating from the planet so that it resembles the coronavirus.

UM researchers will examine how COVID-19 is altering previously overlooked aspects of people's lives

Three UM researchers to quickly investigate COVID-19’s knock-on effects

Helping the old, the young and the abused

September 21, 2020 — 

Three University of Manitoba (UM) professors have received Partnership Engage Grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) to rapidly investigate matters related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

These grants provide short-term and timely support for partnered research activities that will inform decision-making at a single partner organization from the public, private or not-for-profit sector.

“I congratulate the three researchers and their partner community organizations. Their collaborations to learn the effects of COVID-19 on at-risk segments of society are critical,” said Dr. Digvir Jayas, vice-president (research and international) and Distinguished Professor at UM.

The three professors

Professor Stephanie Chesser

Professor Stephanie Chesser

Dr. Stephanie Chesser Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management, with co-investigator Dr. Michelle Porter, director, Centre on Aging, were awarded $24,821 to explore how public messaging around COVID-19 and its impact among older people. 

Intense worldwide media coverage of the pandemic has begun to showcase an ageist social discourse that is both prejudicial and dehumanizing to older people. While much has been written about the possible consequences of ageist communications and internalized ageism, it is not yet clear how exposure to a steady stream of ageist messaging and social discourse in the time of COVID-19 is presently impacting the thinking and social behaviours of individual older people in Canada. In order to intervene and hopefully prevent or reduce many of the possible negative social outcomes shown to be associated with internalized ageism, the UM’s Centre on Aging and the Manitoba Association of Senior Centres are partnering to explore how older people are interpreting and reacting to age-related messaging circulating during the pandemic.. The objectives are: 1) to explore how older people are interpreting COVID-19 public messaging and discourse, particularly as it relates to older age; 2) to explore whether COVID-19 messaging and discourse may influence the social and/or community engagement behaviours of older people during or after the pandemic, and 3) to create feasible recommendations for how community organizations can immediately begin to counter the negative impacts of COVID-19-related internalized ageism among older people and keep them socially connected.


Professor Kendra Nixon

Professor Kendra Nixon

Dr. Kendra Nixon, director of RESOLVE and associate professor in the Faculty of Social Work, was awarded $24,780 for her project investigating COVID-19 and the experiences of intimate partner violence (IPV) survivors and service providers. The study is a partnership between Nixon, Nadine Henriquez (Faculty of Health Studies, Brandon University) and the Family Violence Prevention Program.

Many victims/survivors of IPV have been placed at greater risk of violence from their abusers because of heightened stress in the home and because they cannot leave to seek protection. Service providers who assist victims/survivors have also been impacted. They have had to alter their practice dramatically to adapt to this new and uncertain reality, including reducing their capacity so that proper physical distancing can be maintained, and providing crisis counselling and support through remote or virtual means. While preliminary evidence suggests that COVID-19 has exacerbated the problem of IPV, we are only beginning to understand the impact on IPV victims/survivors and service providers. The purpose of this one-year, mixed-method study is to address these critical gaps by better understanding how pandemics, such as COVID-19, impact survivors of IPV and the organizations that serve them. Study objectives are to: 1) Establish a foundational understanding of the nature and scope of the impact of pandemics on the social issue of IPV; 2) Explore the impact of pandemics on IPV survivors; 3) Identify how pandemics can put IPV survivors at additional risk; 4) Explore the impacts of pandemics on IPV service providers; 5) Explore how IPV-serving organizations in Manitoba responded to COVID-19, including what barriers they encountered; 6) Develop policy and practice recommendations for policymakers and service providers.


Professor Roberta Woodgate

Professor Roberta Woodgate

Dr. Roberta Woodgate, a professor in the College or Nursing and a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Child and Family Engagement in Health Research and Healthcare, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, was awarded $25,000 for her project, “Finding Solutions for the Challenges Faced by Young Workers in the COVID-19 Era.” She is partnering with NorWest Co-Op Community Health Inc. (NorWest), and its integrated youth service centre (NorWest Youth Hub).

COVID-19 is not only a global health crisis; it is a labour market crisis, and people in low-income positions have suffered the most. Low-income employees, often in precarious employment positions (i.e. cashiers, merchandisers, delivery drivers), are among the many people risking their well-being to deliver essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic. These positions are frequently filled by young people. Many of these young earners are in working poverty, with limited financial resources, choice, social protections, and often an inability to advocate for their rights. While there have been efforts to address the needs of low-income workers during this pandemic, information about the specific experiences of youth in the workplace is missing. Working with NorWest, Dr. Woodgate’s project will provide evidence-based best practices to support youth as they prepare for, secure, and maintain employment, made even more pressing in the COVID-19 era. The overall purpose of this project is to detail the employment needs and challenges of young people in the COVID-19 era with the intent to identify solutions that will result in more supportive, responsive, safe, and healthy workplaces.


Research at the University of Manitoba is partially supported by funding from the Government of Canada Research Support Fund.

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