The Maytree fellows are thought leaders on various aspects of human rights and poverty. They will be working on ideas and projects to strengthen Maytree’s thinking around poverty and human rights and help influence public policy. To connect with a Maytree fellow, contact us at info[at]maytree.com.
For the past 35 years, Alex Bezzina has been deeply committed to improving the lives of vulnerable people. From 1983 to 1999, he worked directly with clients in the non-profit sector, specifically working with adults with mental health needs. In 1999, Alex joined the Ontario Public Service.
Between 1999 and 2012, Alex held senior positions in various provincial ministries, including the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Government Services, the Ministry of Community and Social Services, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, and the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. In these ministries, he was responsible for policy development, program design and service delivery.
In March 2012 he was appointed Deputy Minister of Children and Youth Services (MCYS), a position he held until October 2016. As Deputy Minister of MCYS, he had responsibility for a broad range of services for children and youth, including youth justice services.
From October 2016 until June 2018 he was the Deputy Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. There he was responsible for a range of programs serving newcomers, including refugees who were fleeing the Syrian crisis.
In June 2018, Alex Bezzina retired from the Ontario Public Service.
Michael Mendelson was Senior Scholar at the Caledon Institute of Social Policy. He has previously held senior public service positions in Ontario and Manitoba: Deputy Secretary (Deputy Minister) of Cabinet Office in Ontario; Assistant Deputy Minister in Ontario’s Ministries of Finance, Community Services and Health; Secretary to Treasury Board and Deputy Minister of Social Services in Manitoba. He is currently Chair of the Board of the Environics Institute and also a trustee of two private investment companies.
Michael has published many articles on social and fiscal policy including: ‘Basic Income’ or ‘Bait and Switch’? [Caledon Institute]; The Training Wheels Are Off: A Closer Look at the Canada Job Grant with Noah Zon [Mowat Centre for Policy Innovation and the Caledon Institute]; Is Canada (still) a fiscal union? [Caledon Institute]; The UK in 2011 is not Canada in 1996 [Barrow Cadbury Foundation, London, UK]; Aboriginal Peoples and Postsecondary Education in Canada [Caledon Institute]; Financing the Canada and Quebec Pension Plans [American Association of Retired Persons, Public Policy Institute, Washington]; Measuring Child Benefits: Measuring Child Poverty [Caledon Institute]; Benefits for Children: A Four Country Study ed. with Ken Battle [Caledon Institute and the J. Rowntree Foundation].
Bruce is the Director of the Social Rights Advocacy Centre and a consultant retained by the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights to assist the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing. He has published many articles and book chapters on social rights and has played a leading role in promoting social rights internationally. He addressed the Constitutional Assembly in South Africa on the inclusion of socio-economic rights in its constitution and continues to work with advocates there. He was a founding member of ESCR-Net – an international network of NGOs and advocates for social rights and is active with the Strategic Litigation Working Group. He represented non-governmental organizations in the negotiation of the historic complaints procedure for social rights adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2008.
In Canada, Bruce has co-directed a major ten-year research project in social rights and has co-ordinated strategic litigation, including thirteen interventions at the Supreme Court of Canada by the Charter Committee on Poverty Issues. He was co-representative in the recent precedent-setting case before the UN Human Rights Committee on access to health care in Nell Toussaint v Canada and helped to develop the successful Charter challenge on freedom of expression of charities in Canada Without Poverty v Canada. He was a Commissioner on the Ontario Human Rights Commission from 2016-2019. He helped develop successful proposals to entrench the right to housing in the National Housing Strategy Act (2019) and is now working with civil society organizations to ensure its effective implementation.