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Mobility and social exclusion in Canadian communities: An empirical investigation of opportunity access and deprivation from the perspective of vulnerable groups

TitleMobility and social exclusion in Canadian communities: An empirical investigation of opportunity access and deprivation from the perspective of vulnerable groups
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsPáez, A., Mercado R. G., Farber S., Morency C., and Roorda M.
InstitutionPolicy Research Directorate, Strategic Policy and Research
CityHamilton, ON
Keywordsaccessibility, low income, mobility tools, opportunity landscape, seniors, single parent households, social exclusion, spatial behavior, spatial mismatch, time use

Human Resources and Social Development Canada, as part of its mandate to help Canadians build a stronger and more competitive nation, is concerned with the ability of Canadians, and in particular vulnerable individuals and families, to access all the places associated with their daily needs. An important question in this regard concerns the potential role of mobility and transportation in mediating differential accessibility outcomes in Canadian communities. Given the dearth of Canadian research on this topic, the objective of the present report is to investigate, within the context of three Canadian urban areas, the mobility and accessibility situation of three vulnerable population segments, namely seniors, low income people, and individuals within single parent households. The research is informed by the concept of social exclusion, the notion that some members of society could be cut off from normal participation in important aspects of society. Various dimensions of exclusion are identified in the literature, in particular personal, living space, economic, mobility, and time use factors. These dimensions are used to develop a conceptual framework to guide the empirical investigation that comprises the majority of the report. Within the conceptual framework, personal, spatial, and economic factors are thought to influence, individually and in combination, the mobility and time use patterns of individuals. Accessibility is seen as a consequence of mobility. The empirical investigation on mobility and accessibility is based primarily on travel surveys for the Hamilton, Toronto, and Montreal areas, and complemented with Census information, and information about the distribution of economic and other opportunities in the regions under study. Study of time use patterns is primarily based on General Social Survey Cycle 19 information. The report deals with two different but related aspects of mobility: trip generation and distance traveled. Trip generation is a necessary condition for accessibility. Distance traveled is, in combination with the spatial distribution of opportunities, a direct component of accessibility. Application of statistical and spatial analysis tools, coupled with the use of individual level data, leads to very detailed results that reveal important mobility and accessibility variations between population segments, and between cities as well as within cities. The results indicate that in general, members of the vulnerable groups tend to have lower levels of mobility, compared to the reference population, and that the differences tend in general to be greater further away from cities centers. Three accessibility case studies, to employment in Toronto, food services in Montreal, and health care in Hamilton, demonstrate that single parent households, low income individuals, and seniors, experience relatively lower levels of accessibility compared to the reference group, with the occasional exception near the central parts of these cities. Analysis of time use patterns provides a complementary perspective that demonstrates the importance of temporal constraints in determining the frequency of participation in shopping activities, as well as the duration of shopping episodes. The report provides evidence concerning mobility, accessibility, and time use patterns of various population segments that suggest the existence of social exclusionary processes. The implications of the findings for policy are discussed, and knowledge gaps identified. In conclusion, the report represents an initial, but much needed step, towards a better understanding of transportation-related social exclusion issues in Canada.

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