Our research on Family Friendly Community Resources (FFCR) consists of multiple projects related to communities, mental health, and geography.

Our research is still in progress so check for updates and additional information in the near future.



Distressed Communities: Identifying and Explaining Regional Differences in Canadian’s Mental Health
Marisa Young, McMaster University; Diana Singh, McMaster University

Where you live impacts your mental health. This is also true across regions of Canada. Preliminary results from the Family-Friendly Community Resources for Better Balance, Health, and Well-Being study (FFCR) highlight variations in Canadian’s distress levels based on one’s residential region above and beyond personal characteristics. Researchers tend to point to contextual disadvantage, deprivation, and segregation as the main culprits for these geographical differences. The socioeconomic basis of these arguments imply that more disadvantaged regions lack the resources necessary to support their residents, like adequate safety services, or nutritious food outlets, for example. Yet, due to data restrictions, the absence of resources is necessarily implied by traditional measures of regional disadvantage rather than 'actually'  measured and tested. In the current study we transcend these limitations and attempt to explain regional disparities in Canadian’s mental health above and beyond traditional measures of residential disadvantage. We use data from the FFCR study—the first of its kind in Canada—which includes information on a variety of residential characteristics, including libraries, recreation facilities, religious organizations, education resources, food outlets, childcare, and protective services, for example. These context-level data are connected to individual-level data from the Canadian Work Stress and Health study, which comprises information on a national-based sample of respondents. Both datasets are longitudinal in nature and have been linked across five waves, based on the respondent’s census division of residence (2011 to 2019 by 2 years). Our study first, demonstrates the aggregate differences in psychological distress across Canadian regions. Second, we use measures from the FFCR study to explain away these differences while accounting for disadvantage in the area. Third, we consider changes overtime and document the importance of measuring regional characteristics in addition to traditional measures of residential effects based on economic deprivation and social segregation.

Best Practices for Measuring Community Characteristics across Canada: A Comparison of Coding Classifications for the DMTI Estimated Points of Interest Dataset 

Marisa Young, McMaster University; Sean Leipe, McMaster University

Researchers are continually seeking more effective and efficient measures of geographical context. Community scholars—in particular—are tasked with finding data to best capture the impact of residential services, physical resources, and social institutions on individual outcomes. One outlet for such data is DMTI Spatials Enhanced Points of Interest Dataset (EPOI). The EPOI file is a national repository of over one million Canadian businesses and recreational points of interest. The database is generated through CanMap Streetfiles (digital map data), which includes geocodes of each points precise location. The data points include everything from healthcare facilities and education resources to shopping centres and golf courses. Each service, business, or resource in the EPOI database is assigned to a respective category using Standard Industrial Classification codes (SIC). In 1997 these codes were updated to a new scheme: The North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS), although both are still used. It is not clear, however, which is the more reliable coding criteria: Preliminary checks of EPOI’s in select Canadian regions underscore wide discrepancies between SIC and NAICS codes. Further examination of the data also highlights inconsistencies in measured versus observed points of interest, depending on classification type and coding scheme. The main challenge for researchers interested in using these data is that few studies address these discrepancies or compare SIC versus NAICS coding schemes. Our study helps identify these inconsistencies and answer questions related to which codes work best using several regions from Canada as case studies. Our claims are supported by data checks comparing SIC and NAICS codes by point with publicly available data from other regional sources (i.e., municipality, provincial, google maps, etc.). We conclude our paper by offering a “best practices” guide for using EPOI data based on SIC versus NAICS coding across various points of interest in Canada.

The Canadian Family-Friendly Community Resources for Better Balance, Health and Well-Being Study
Marisa Young, McMaster University


The Canadian 'Family-Friendly Community Resources for Better Balance, Health and Well-Being' study (FFCR) is the first study in North America to comprehensively examine the impact of regional community context on work-family conflict and health outcomes. The study was designed to collate data from disparate sources on a variety of community characteristics over time, including grocery stores and other food sources, education services and resources, recreational facilities, food outlets, religious organizations, and protection services, for example. These data were then linked to individual-level data from the Canadian Work, Stress and Health study—a longitudinal national sample of Canadians across a myriad of work and family circumstances. The context-level data were compiled at years corresponding to the individual-level data collection (2011, 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2019). Census divisions were used as the primary classification of ‘regional residential community’ to ensure a sufficient sample size per group for analytical purposes. In the following paper, I discuss the objectives and methods of the study. I present preliminary results for the unequal effect of “community” influences on work-family conflict for men and women across Canada.