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Commerce Subject Guide: COMM 3391 Unpacking the Investigation Workshop 2022

A guide to key databases, reference & web sources, and research & citation guides for Commerce.

Resources for COMM 3391 -- Unpacking the Investigation workshop
Nov. 23, 2022, 1 p.m - 4 p.m., R-Peace Learning Lab, Hart Hall

In this session, we will investigate a topic from multiple angles to conduct our own investigation/interrogation of grey literature and academic sources to understand a contemporary workplace issue. At 2:30 p.m., investigative journalist Hilary Beaumont will join us on Zoom from Los Angeles to discuss and answer questions about her investigation into migrant farm workers in Ontario.
Topic: Migrant farm workers and COVID-19
Readings before class:

Hilary Beaumont's bio and website

Background & Academic Resources

News media can provide a quick overview of your topic and point you toward relevant reports, government departments, individuals such as academics, or other advocacy & interest groups. See news databases through A-Z List of Databases.

  • ProQuest Canadian Newsstream (For most mainstream Canadian daily newspapers and other media.)
  • Eureka (Excellent for smaller Canadian news media. Also has major Canadian media.)
  • NexisUni (For current coverage from New Brunswick daily newspapers. Also contains national, international and business news sources.)


Academic searches through academic databases or Google Scholar can provide valuable summaries/background, context, studies, statistics, and links to further research.

Try the following search in Novanet, which will find academic (and some non-academic) sources:

Novanet search screen with suggested keywords

  • E.g., see Vosko, & Spring, C. (2021). COVID-19 outbreaks in Canada and the crisis of migrant farmworkers’ social reproduction: Transnational labour and the need for greater accountability among receiving states. Journal of International Migration and Integration, 1–27.


Statista -- database of statistics, graphs, and reports on a variety of issues by country. Worth a look when beginning any research on a topic that is likely to involve stats & data.

Government Sources

Some government resources will also serve as background, while others will help advance your investigation.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC)

Employment and Social Development Canada Temporary Foreign Worker Program (info about Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program and agriculture stream of Temporary Foreign Worker program)

Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)
         --What we heard: Consultations on accommodations for Temporary Foreign Workers

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)

Legislative summaries and backgrounders by the Library of Parliament (See Library of Parliament research publications  -- HillNotes quick reads; HillStudies background papers; Legislative summaries; Trade & Investment profiles).
     ---e.g., see Temporary Foreign Workers in Canada background paper, 2020

Provincial legislation such as Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act


Office of the Auditor General of Canada  (See Publications > Reports to Parliament. Search by federal institution [e.g., department] or topic.)

Parliament of Canada -- see Hansards (records of debates of House of Commons and Senate), Committees where relevant, and Library of Parliament research publications

Statistics Canada -- see data tab; search by keyword or subject

Trade Data Online -- see where Canada exports its crops and how much money those exports are worth. Try search by Industry to get all food crops or zero in on specific farm industries

World Trade Organization Trade Profiles 2022 - quick statistics on total agricultural imports and exports by country


Business Sources

Business Source Complete database -- See Company Profiles along top menu for Marketline Reports of large companies. Contains information for public and private companies.

Nexis Uni Company Dossiers (large companies) and company reports (includes smaller companies) contain profiles of public and private companies. 

SEDAR -- The System for Electronic Document Analysis and Retrieval (SEDAR) is a database of financial documents from publicly traded companies. Company annual reports contain not only financial details, but insights into business conditions and the operating environment of the company. Some parts to look at: "Letter to Shareholders" (introduction by CEO) can include a summary of conditions or issues faced by the company, and “Management Discussion and Analysis” can include hints of the company’s strategy for dealing with these and other operational issues. Annual reports are also available on company websites, but SEDAR has them all, and you can zero in on the most useful sections.

Statista -- See Company DB in top menu. Has profiles of public and private companies.


Courts, Tribunals and other health & safety complaints

CAN-LII: Search for legislation and federal or provincial court cases through all levels of courts. CanLii also carries records from provincial Boards and Tribunals such as labour boards, labour arbitration awards, and workers compensation appeals tribunals.

Alberta Labour Relations Board

Nova Scotia Labour Board

Ontario Labour Relations Board

Ontario Workplace Health & Safety process (Through Ontario Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. Legislative oversight: Ontario Occupational Health & Safety Act)

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC): Employers who are non-compliant under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Advocacy Groups, Thinktanks, NGOs

Agriculture Workers Alliance, United Food & Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Canada -- information on migrant workers' labour rights
        --Agriculture Workers Alliance Facebook page (latest news & campaigns)
        --The Status of Migrant Agricultural Workers in Canada 2022, Special Covid-19 Report

Canadian Federation of Agriculture -- contains links to key facts and reports about Foreign Worker Programs

Justicia for Migrant Workers -- Advocacy group made up of migrant workers, academics, labour organizers, and citizens

Migrant Worker Health Project --  Canadian research group dedicated to the health and safety of migrant agricultural workers

Google Advanced & Google Scholar

Using Google Scholar? Make sure your library links are set to link you through to full-text content from subscription databases. If your library links are not set, you will hit paywalls for content you actually have access to through the library's subscriptions. Note: re-set your library links every time you clear your cache. Here are the steps to set your library links:

  • Go to Settings > Library links
  • Search for "Mount Allison"
  • Select all options for Mount Allison Libraries & Archives -- Find Full Text @ MTA
  • Save

Screen shot of Google Scholar showing settings menu

Screen shot of Google Scholar - how to set Mount A library links


Looking for grey literature on a hard-to-research topic? Try Google Advanced searches.

Some helpful advanced search tools:

Site searches: e.g.,,
File type searches: e.g., limit to PDF (see example below)

Screen shot of Google Advanced search screen