Report Release: Mobility and Proximity in Canada During the COVID-19 Pandemic

October 27, 2020 by School of Cities Staff

The purpose of this report is to describe changes in behavior for the Canadian public, policymakers, and leaders focused on the immediate and lasting impact of COVID social-distancing restrictions on Canadian life.

The purpose of this Policy Report is to describe the mobility and proximity of Canadians before and during the COVID pandemic in 2020.
COVID19 has changed the patterns of mobility & proximity in major Canadian cities

March 13, 2020 represented a turning point for Canadians in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and transformed the public realm as we know it. With mandatory lockdowns and social distancing measures put into place across Canada, the manner in which people were used to interacting with city spaces changed overnight. The lack of precedence and the unexpected nature of this phenomenon created an urgent need to understand and analyze the immediate and lasting impacts of this global event on the movement of people in major cities, in order to inform future scholarship, policy design and planning.

In response to this need, Gabriel Cavalli (Rotman School of Management), Brennan Lake (Cuebiq, Data for Good Program), SofC Faculty Affiliate Anita M.McGahan (Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy), and Emanuele Pepe (The ISI Foundation), collaborated to lead a six-month research study recording the changes in behaviour of the Canadian city-dwellers, in response to the federal social-distancing guidelines. In particular, the study focused on two aspects of movement - mobility and proximity. 

Using anonymized cell phone data, the researchers were able to determine estimates of mobility and proximity of Canadians by province, territory, census division, and major city since the first COVID-19 restrictions took effect.



PDF iconMobility and Proximity in Canada During the COVID-19 Pandemic.pdf

Read this recently published report to get answers to the following questions:

  • How did Canadians react to the restrictions on mobility that were implemented in March 2020, and subsequently to contain the spread of COVID? How did Canadians respond to the lifting of restrictions? Has mobility recovered to pre-pandemic levels?
  • How did the proximity of Canadians to one another change with restrictions on mobility? Has contact recovered to pre-pandemic levels with the lifting of restrictions?
  • What evidence do we have of changes in air travel?