LISTOWEL, ONT. -- As Ontarian's brace for a potential “second wave” of COVID-19, a University of Guelph researcher wants to know how rural residents have handled the pandemic.

“When municipal governments and policy makers go about developing a response plan on how to prepare for the next disruption, they need to take into account this context. People that live in rural communities have rural, unique needs that should be taken into account,” says Leith Deacon, an sasistant professor in the School of Environment Design and Rural Development at the University of Guelph.

The survey, available in Huron County now, and soon to be available to Perth County residents, aims to find out how the pandemic has changed rural residents daily lives, and how residents think it will change their lives moving forward.

It’s important information for the social agencies that helped make the survey possible, like the Listowel Salvation Army.

“For us, we operate in North Perth, we will be able to specifically look at what North Perth is feeling, what they’ve experienced throughout COVID, and what it is they see their needs being moving forward,” says Gwyneth Woods of Listowel’s Salvation Army.

“This will help us have some actual numbers and feedback from the community, so that we can better serve them,” says Major Wendy Johnston, from Listowel’s Salvation Army.

Phase 1 of the rural response project is the 22-question survey. Phase 2 will be interviews with survey respondents.

“Everybody has had impacts, so we’re trying to get every single resident above the age of 18 to complete the survey,” says Deacon.