Social Science and Humanities researchers also active in battle against COVID

McGill’s SSHRC Institutional Grant and MI4 co-fund 12 projects exploring the social dimension of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Twelve McGill researchers are the recipients of a total of $179,258 in one-time grants for COVID-19 rapid response projects, jointly funded by McGill’s Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Institutional Grant and the McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity (MI4) Emergency COVID-19 Research Funding (ECRF) program.

McGill’s SSHRC Institutional Grants (SIG) fund small-scale research and research-related activities led by faculty and students in the social sciences and humanities. MI4 brings together over 250 researchers from McGill, the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), the Jewish General Hospital and their affiliated research centres to develop solutions to infectious threats.

To date, MI4’s ECRF program has awarded approximately $1,500,000 in funding to research initiatives aimed at reducing the threat of coronavirus, stopping its spread and treating those who are hardest hit. By supporting projects addressing innovative social sciences and humanities research questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, MI4 is expanding its ECRF funding beyond health-orientated research.

The joint funding will enable researchers to explore the social dimension of the COVID-19 pandemic and to provide valuable insights into its impacts on individuals and communities. Through their projects, researchers will provide evidence and solutions to inform decision-making and address pressing challenges resulting from the rapid spread of COVID-19. Each researcher will receive up to $20,000 per grant. See the full list of awardees below.

Studying the impact of COVID-19 on food acquisition in Quebec

Daiva Nielsen, Assistant Professor in McGill’s Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, is receiving $19,853 to study the impact of the pandemic on food acquisition in different regions of Quebec.

Her team will use a set of web-based surveys to evaluate five research themes including the impact of self-isolation and quarantine on food planning and food access, and levels of anxiety around food shopping. The responses will be geocoded according to participant postal codes, enabling comparisons of food acquisition experiences according to neighbourhood socioeconomic status and regional prevalence of COVID-19.

“The results of this study will help to inform planning for food access strategies during public health emergencies that may arise in the future, and will shed light on specific factors that should inform these strategies like socioeconomic status and nutritional needs,” says Professor Nielsen.

Protecting low-wage essential workers during a global pandemic

Adelle Blackett, Professor of Law and the Canada Research Chair in Transnational Labour Law and Development in the Faculty of Law, is receiving $15,000 to examine social measures in place that protect low-wage essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as hospital orderlies, sanitation workers and grocery store workers. “These workers’ own needs remain ‘invisible’ – many are racialized, some work in Canada with irregular migration status, and most lack the social protection necessary to care for their own families in dignity,” explains Professor Blackett, who is also the Director of McGill’s Labour Law & Development Research Laboratory.

Professor Blackett expects this research to highlight the need for transnational responses that foster international solidarity given the global reach of the pandemic. “Least developed countries in particular are unable to roll out the kind of wage-replacement and other social protection measures that would enable social distancing practices to be meaningful.”

She also cited the words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who made the following prediction in one of his last speeches before his assassination: “One day our society will come to respect the sanitation worker if it is to survive, for the person who picks up our garbage, in the final analysis, is as significant as the physician, for if he doesn’t do his job, diseases are rampant. All labour has dignity.”

Exploring the strain of the pandemic on Canada’s mental health care system

A team lead by Bassam Khoury, Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, is receiving $19,907 to investigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Canadian mental health care system. McGill graduate students and therapists-in-training Megan Per, Viktoriya Manova, and Christina Spinelli will lead the study.

“When reflecting on the impacts of COVID-19, we recognized a need for research exploring mental health and the potential strain this pandemic can have on resources,” explains the team. “By examining mental health accessibility and how service delivery has evolved over the course of this pandemic, we can better understand what supports are needed and how providers cope with these changes.”

The 12 projects that were awarded project grants include:

Warut Khern-am-nuai
Desautels Faculty of Management
Helping Retailers and Customers to Cope with Surge Demands Under COVID-19

Anthony Masi
Desautels Faculty of Management
Differences in public policy responses and citizens reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic: A comparative study of Canada, Sweden, Italy and the Republic of Korea

Delphine Collin-Vezina
Faculty of Arts
Responding to Child Protection-Involved Families During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Daiva Nielsen
Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
Experiences with food acquisition in Quebec during COVID-19 pandemic: Risk perceptions, access barriers, and insight to prepare for the future

Fabien Gelinas
Faculty of Law
The COVID-19 Crisis: An Investment Law Perspective

Charles Gladhill
Faculty of Arts
Ancient Narratives of Viral Contagion and the Aftermath of COVID-19

Leonardo Baccini
Faculty of Arts
The Political Economy of Governments' Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Juan Camilo Serpa
Desautels Faculty of Management
Quebec Data Central for Impact of COVID-19 on Society and Business and for a Post-Pandemic World

Ma'n Hilmi Mohammad Zawati
Faculty of Medicine
Of Biobanking and Policy: Emerging Ethical and Legal Challenges During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Bassam Khoury
Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology
Understanding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Canadian mental health care system

Jennifer Elrick
Faculty of Arts
Changing the Social Value of Work? The Effects of COVID-19 on Canada's Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP)

Adelle Blackett
Faculty of Law
COVID-19's Essential Workers: Rethinking Social Protection Beyond the Employment Relationship

Back to top