About Maytree

Maytree has come a long way since Judy and Alan Broadbent established the organization in 1982. Listed here are the highlights of our journey through the years.


In 2019, Maytree continues its commitment to seeing the right to housing recognized in Canadian law. In April, Maytree and other advocates release an open letter to Prime Minister Trudeau urging essential amendments to the National Housing Strategy Act in Bill C-97. In May, Maytree President Elizabeth McIsaac presents these amendments before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance.

In June, the National Housing Strategy Act passes into law with the recommended amendments. For the first time, Canada has federal legislation recognizing the right to housing. Elizabeth McIsaac and Bruce Porter co-author an article on the legislation’s significance for the Literary Review of Canada.

Over the course of the year, the City of Toronto works on its next ten-year housing and homelessness plan, HousingTO 2020-2030. Maytree and other housing advocates call for this to be a human rights-based plan through the Right to Housing TO campaign. Maytree also amplifies this work with a submission to the Housing Secretariat and a deputation before the City’s Planning and Housing Committee. In December, the City of Toronto passes Canada’s first human-rights based municipal housing plan.

Maytree launches its first ever blog series on rights-based participation.

Maytree continues its work on income security at both the federal and provincial levels. As part of a community-wide effort to reverse the Ontario government’s cancellation of the Transition Child Benefit Maytree’s new Director of Policy, Garima Talwar Kapoor, cautions against the proposed cut. In September, the Ontario government reverses its decision.

Ahead of the federal election, “Why tax break promises for new parents fall short” is published in Policy Options. Garima Talwar Kapoor also appears on The Agenda with Steve Paikin to discuss budget deficits.

In November, Maytree releases the latest update to Welfare in Canada, which tracks the welfare incomes across the country and assesses how they compare to the poverty line. Maytree Fellow Michael Mendelson publishes a report on lessons learned from Ontario’s cancelled Basic Income Pilot.

Maytree Chairman Alan Broadbent joins other leaders in writing a public letter urging Torontonians to welcome and evaluate Sidewalk Toronto’s plans to build a data-driven smart city on Toronto’s eastern waterfront. Maytree also writes about how Sidewalk can contribute to inclusion in Toronto.

Maytree Policy School has a successful second year with 23 participants.


In April, Maytree releases the 2017 version of the Social Assistance Summaries followed by the release of Welfare in Canada, 2017 in November. Both reports were originally published by the Caledon Institute of Social Policy which wound down its operations at the end of 2017.

Maytree participates in the national consultations on a human rights-based approach to housing and supported broad-based input with a focus on the meaningful participation of those with lived experience of housing need. In August, Maytree signs an open letter urging the Prime Minister to make good on his commitment to the right to housing by enshrining that right in upcoming National Housing Strategy legislation.

In June, Maytree chairman Alan Broadbent, together with Kevin Page, Co-Chair of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, publishes an op-ed that points to the right to housing as being essential to resolving Canada’s housing crisis.

Throughout the year, Maytree focuses on income security in Ontario, with, among others, a submission to the Minister of Finance suggesting how to make Ontario Budget 2018 the Income Security Budget, and a briefing note to the incoming government on how to reform Ontario’s income security programs to reduce poverty and expand opportunity.

The first classes of the Maytree Policy School and CivicsXchange graduate. The next cohort for Maytree Policy School is announced in December.

Together with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Maytree founds the Urban Project, an initiative designed to tackle the challenges facing Canada’s big cities.


In January, Maytree announces that the Caledon Institute of Social Policy will wind down its operations at the end of the year. Maytree becomes the new home for Caledon’s body of work. On November 27, Maytree hosts the conference Looking ahead: Preparing for the next 25 years of social policy, which includes a tribute to the Caledon team at an evening reception. The conference also includes a conversation between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Matt Galloway, host of CBC Radio’s Metro Morning. In March, Maytree makes a submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities. Foundations for a Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy proposes principles, approaches, and priorities for a Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy. Throughout 2017, Maytree advocates for the right to housing and proposes strong tools that should be part of the federal government’s national housing strategy. Maytree releases two policy briefs: Three ways the National Housing Strategy can support the right to housing and Should the National Housing Strategy include a housing benefit?. Maytree launches two new programs. CivicsXchange is a civic literacy program, using a resident-centred approach to civics, community building, and advocacy. It launches in June. The Maytree Policy School is designed to support policy professionals from the non-profit sector to build skills and resources to enhance their ability to influence public policy and strengthen the policy capacity of their organization. Participants are chosen at the end of the year with the first session starting in January 2018.


Five Good Ideas celebrates its 100th session with a panel discussion with social and civic leaders about the power of ideas. The Five Good Ideas audio book is released. Maytree makes two submissions to the federal government’s Let’s Talk Housing consultation. Foundations for a National Housing Strategy proposes that, at a minimum, housing choices must guarantee affordability, quality and security. What we heard: Community conversations is a compilation of findings from in-person conversations with people across Canada who might have faced barriers to accessing the federal government’s online consultation (produced in partnership with United Way Centraide Canada and the Lived Experience Advisory Council). Alan Broadbent and Elizabeth McIsaac present at the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Geneva. Maytree’s recommendations focus on strengthening the capacity of local governments to be effective in delivering on the obligations of the Covenant.

On December 10, 2015, International Human Rights Day, Maytree organizes Connecting for Change – a conference designed to enhance our collective antipoverty work.

Maytree funds Where are the hardest places to live in Canada?, a Mowat Centre study mapping the geographic dimensions of inequality and well-being in Canada. The study compares the country’s 117 Canadian Health Regions across nine social and economic indicators.

Maytree announces new strategic direction which focuses on taking a human rights approach to addressing the systems that create poverty.

Release of Who votes in Toronto municipal elections? conducted for Maytree by Ryerson University Professor Myer Siemiatycki and geographic analyst Sean Marshall

Elizabeth McIsaac is appointed as president of Maytree.

Together with Ryerson University, Maytree creates the Ryerson Maytree Global Diversity and Migration Exchange to further advance the inclusion of immigrants and visible minorities in Canada and worldwide. The new initiative will become the  home for a suite of successful Maytree programs: Cities of Migration, DiverseCity onBoard, the Flight and Freedom book project and hireimmigrants.

Ratna Omidvar leaves Maytree to become the founding Executive Director of the Ryerson Maytree Global Diversity and Migration Exchange.

2nd International Cities of Migration conference: An Agenda for Shared Prosperity.

Diversity in Leadership – International DiverseCity onBoard Learning Exchange in Berlin.

Get out the vote conference brings together community leaders and activists to learn about how to mobilize disengaged voters, particularly in diverse, low-income communities.

Release of Counts 8: A Snapshot of Diverse Leadership in the Health Care Sector with Mount Sinai Hospital.

2013 Diversity in Goverance Awards recognizes Blue Hills Child and Family Centre, the City of Markham, and William Osler Health System.

Release of Counts 7: Public Opinion on Diverse GTA Leadership: Research Findings and the Path Forward (conducted by Nanos Research).

CollaborAction: Building Blocks Learning Exchange brings together 400 engaged leaders for a one-day conference focused on making change in highly diverse, low income communities.

ALLIES releases The results are in: Mentoring improves employment outcomes for skilled immigrants.

The DiverseCity Toronto project is extended for another two years – with focus on DiverseCity onBoard and DiverseCity Fellows.

RBC becomes main partner for hireimmigrants.ca website.

The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation provides grant to DiverseCity onBoard to assist partners in other cities across Canada develop similar programs.

Maytree receives Excellence in Community Service Award presented by Intercultural Dialogue Institute Toronto.

Shaping the future: Canada’s rapidly changing immigration policies – A new Maytree Report by Naomi Alboim and Karen Cohl.

DiverseCity Counts 5: Leadership Diversity in the Nonprofit Sector: Baby Steps, Big Strides, and Bold Stances.

DiverseCity Counts 6: The Next Frontier for Diversity – Supplier Diversity in the GTA: Business Case and Best Practices.

Published Good Ideas from Successful Cities: Municipal Leadership in Immigrant Integration; Practice to Policy: Lessons from Local Leadership.

Canadians on Citizenship – New Survey Research Reveals Canada’s Attitudes towards Citizenship.

Redesigned and relaunched the hireimmigrants.ca website with much success.

Our Building Blocks project exceeds expectations.

Ratna Omidvar accepts an Honorary Doctor of Laws and addresses Faculty of Education students at their York University convocation.

Caledon rescues data – Caledon will combine Welfare Incomes and Poverty Profile into a new Caledon publication, the Canada Social Report.

DiverseCity onBoard goes global!

DiverseCity Voices travels to Berlin.

ALLIES report released: HR North: An Analysis of HR Practices of SMEs in Northeastern Ontario and Global Talent for SMEs: Finding Solutions.

We continue to share the Maytree & Metcalf Foundation Release: New Report on Immigrant Entrepreneurship.

Another stellar year for Five Good Ideas.

Caledon looks back on 20 years of solution-oriented policy work.

Ratna Omidvar appointed a Member of the Order of Canada.

Five Good Ideas book published.

DiverseCity Counts 4 – The Diversity Gap: The Electoral Under-Representation of Visible Minorities.

Building Blocks project is launched.

Good Ideas from Toronto to Germany: An Exchange of Immigrant Integration Practices is presented.

DiverseCity onBoard celebrated its 500th Board placement.

The DiverseCity Toronto project was extended for another two years.

DiverseCity onBoard received second prize in the 2011 UN Intercultural Innovation Award.

The Globe and Mail profiles Ratna Omidvar as its Nation Builder of the Decade for Citizenship.

Maytree releases From Insecurity to Prosperity: Practical Ideas for a Stronger Canada, presenting ideas by its policy partners.

ALLIES holds the Learning Exchange, Putting Ideas into Action, in Halifax.

DiverseCity releases the second DiverseCity Counts report with a special focus on diversity in the media.

ALLIES launches new website.

Maytree organizes the first Cities of Migration conference, An Opportunity Agenda for Cities, in The Hague.

Maytree supports Ben Perrin’s book launch of Invisible Chains in Toronto and his national campaign to end modern-day slavery.

As part of DiverseCity, Maytree launches DiverseCity Voices, an online database that connects mainstream media with subject matter experts from under-represented ethnic or racial groups.

DiverseCity releases the first DiverseCity Counts report, a three-year research project conducted by Ryerson’s Diversity Institute to study diversity in leadership in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

Maytree releases Adjusting the Balance: Fixing Canada’s Economic Immigration Policies, a new report by Naomi Alboim.

ALLIES holds the Learning Exchange, Leading with Ideas, in Vancouver.

Maytree releases Fast, Fair and Final: Reforming Canada’s Refugee System, a new report by Peter Showler.

Maytree celebrates the 10th anniversary of its scholarship program with a special publication, Making Their Mark: Canada’s Young Refugees.

Maytree confirms the Ontario Employment Education & Research Centre (OEERC) as one of its funded partners.

Maytree adopts a new logo and changes the name of abcGTA to DiverseCity onBoard.

Maytree launches Cities of Migration, a program to facilitate the exchange of promising integration practices between cities around the world.

Together with The Toronto City Summit Alliance, Maytree launches DiverseCity: The Greater Toronto Leadership Project. This project was developed out of the Alliance’s 2007 Toronto Summit “Making Big Things Happen” and aims to build the diverse leadership we need to propel our urban region forward.

Maytree and Manulife Financial win second place in the Imagine Canada Business and Community Partnership Awards for TRIEC.

Maytree launches School4Civics and Policy in Focus.

TRIEC, and Executive Director Elizabeth McIsaac, are given a mandate to become an independent not-for-profit, charitable organization. Ratna Omidvar is its founding Chair.

ALLIES is launched in partnership with the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation.

The Mentoring Partnership at TRIEC wins an Urban Leadership Award from the Canadian Urban Institute.

Ratna Omidvar and Naomi Alboim are appointed to the Order of Ontario.

David Pecaut, Chair of the Toronto City Summit Alliance and Ratna Omidvar receive the Toronto Vital Signs award, on the 25th anniversary of the Toronto Community Foundation, for creating TRIEC.

Maytree wins the Paul Ylvisaker Award for Public Policy Engagement from the Council on Foundations for developing and implementing informed public policy.

Maytree launches abcGTA (renamed DiverseCity onBoard in 2008).

Maytree Public Policy Training Institute is launched under the leadership of Naomi Alboim.

The first Maytree Annual Leadership Conference is held.

TRIEC launches HireImmigrants.ca.

Diaspora Dialogues Charitable Society is launched under the leadership of Executive Director Helen Walsh.

Prime Minister Paul Martin appoints Ratna Omidvar to serve on the External Advisory Committee on Cities and Communities.

Following the lead of the federal government, a majority of provinces open up full access to their provincial student loans programs.

Avana Capital receives an Urban Leadership Award from the City of Toronto’s Canadian Urban Institute in recognition of its contributions to the city.

TRIEC launches The Mentoring Partnership.

Maytree’s goal to reform the Canada Student Loans program is achieved. The federal government changes legislation to include Convention refugees as eligible candidates for the Canada Student Loans program.

Ontario’s Premier-designate Dalton McGuinty appoints Ratna Omidvar as a member of the Transition Advisory Board.

The Toronto City Summit Alliance recommends the creation of a Greater Toronto Area-wide effort to improve access to employment for skilled immigrants. The Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council is established with Dominic D’Alessandro and Diane Bean of Manulife Financial as co-chairs.

Maytree launches its Five Good Ideas program.

Maytree begins to work with Naomi Alboim as an associate in developing progressive policy solutions for immigration. Fulfilling the Promise: Integrating Immigrant Skills into the Canadian Economy is published by Naomi Alboim and Maytree.

Funders’ Network on Racism and Poverty is launched to engage Canadian grant-makers in addressing solutions to the growing link between systemic racism and poverty.

Alan Broadbent and Ratna Omidvar join other Toronto leaders at The Toronto City Summit Alliance in an effort to renew and revitalize the city.

Alan Broadbent is appointed to the Order of Canada.

Ratna Omidvar is appointed Executive Director of Maytree.

“Toronto’s Vital Signs,” an initiative championed and supported by Alan Broadbent and Nathan Gilbert of The Laidlaw Foundation is launched by The Toronto Community Foundation.

Tamarack: An Institute for Community Engagement is launched with Paul Born as president.

Maytree launches the Immigrant Employment Loan Program in partnership with Alterna Savings.

York-Maytree Management Certificate program is launched in partnership with the Schulich School of Business. It is the first-ever management training program for settlement managers in the GTA.


Ken Battle, President of Caledon Institute of Social Policy, is appointed to the Order of Canada. As recommended in Protection with a Price Tag, the Head Tax imposed on refugees is lifted.

Judy Broadbent launches the Maytree Scholarship Program and the first seven students are selected.

Maytree launches Leaders for Change.

Immigrants Need Not Apply and Protection with a Price Tag are published by Maytree.

Ratna Omidvar becomes Executive Director of the Refugee and Immigrant Program at Maytree.

Maytree launches a formal Refugee and Immigrant Grants program.

Maytree and Caledon publish their first policy paper on immigration and refugee issues – Refugees in Legal Limbo.


Alan Broadbent hosts Ideas That Matter in Toronto bringing together hundreds of urban practitioners, economists, activists, architects and planners, all of whom share an interest in the ideas of Jane Jacobs. A quarterly newsletter Ideas That Matter keeps the ideas and conversation alive.


Judy Broadbent hires Mary Gordon to conceive an initiative to prepare children for their future roles as parents which later becomes Roots of Empathy. The program uses neighbourhood infant and parent visits to classrooms to reduce levels of aggression and violence among school children while raising social/emotional competence and increasing empathy.

Maytree focuses on refugee policy through a grant to the Canadian Council for Refugees.
Caledon Institute of Social Policy is established by Alan Broadbent and Ken Battle.
Maytree enters realm of refugee issues with grants to The Centre for Victims of Torture and The Quaker Committee for Refugees.
Maytree funds Multi-lingual Literacy Program in Toronto, its first planned connection to the immigrant community.
Maytree begins researching adult illiteracy and its correlation to poverty. It starts funding community-based adult literacy programs.
The Maytree Foundation is established by Judy and Alan Broadbent.