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Extracting lessons from coping with COVID-19 in St. James Town, Toronto: identifying and strengthening the community’s social capital assets for responding to, mitigating, and preventing harms, and for preparing for future inter-related crises.

Project Overview

This project seeks to identify and strengthen the social capital and knowledge held by residents of St. James Town, Toronto, and the personnel of agencies that serve them. St. James Town is an ethnically diverse, lower income, high-rise based neighbourhood in the downtown east of Toronto, Canada. The study regards the pandemic as multifaceted, and as having wellbeing impacts not just from contracting the virus, but from everything that goes into preventing the transmission. A starting point assumption is that there are multifaceted impacts of the prevention efforts on people’s physical and mental health, their social lives, and their economic situation, all of which are intertwined. The goal is to inform the best possible responses to the needs in the community that are exacerbated by the pandemic, mitigating harms of the pandemic going forward especially as these interact with additional stressors, and being maximally prepared to respond to future crises of the same or similar type.

Study Design

Cross-sectional study

Project Keywords

social capital, community resilience, social determinants of health, emergency preparedness, high-rise-based neighbourhood, low income

Principal Investigator

Name: Lisa

Title: Associate Professr

Department or Unit: Sociology and Anthropology

Organization: University of Guelph

Co-Project Investigators

    Funding Source

    University of Guelph COVID-19 Research Development and Catalyst Fund

    Expected Study Timeline

    Oct. 5 2020 to Dec. 31 2020

    Study Design

    Cross-sectional study

    Primary Methods of Data Collection

    indepth interviews by internet-mediated conferencing platform; structured diaries

    Unit of Analysis


    Study Population(s)


    Sample Size


    Geographic Focus Area(s)

    Toronto, Canada

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