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Policy backgrounder

Looking ahead: Working group discussion outcomes

Published on 23/01/2018

On November 27, 2017, Maytree hosted a conference together with the Caledon Institute of Social Policy on the theme of looking ahead to the next 25 years of social policy in Canada. With Caledon winding down after 25 years of social policy research and analysis, and Maytree developing a renewed policy agenda, the conference was an opportunity to reflect on lessons from the last 25 years and gather perspectives about what will be needed for the next 25.

The broader frame for the day’s conversation was working towards a social contract that safeguards economic and social rights for everyone living in Canada. That social contract includes legal rights, as well as the set of expectations and relationships between people and their governments, employers, communities, and families that ensures they can live in dignity and have opportunities to succeed. It is a system that effectively keeps many people out of poverty; but in its current state, it also leaves many behind.

The event brought together over 100 invited guests working in and around public policy across different sectors and issue areas. After hearing from a panel of emerging policy leaders and attending a conversation with a more established one (Prime Minister Trudeau), participants were asked to help chart the next 25 years in one of four themes: work, housing, income security, and care.

Maytree challenged attendees to think about where we need to repair and renew the social contract – repair the existing gaps that leave people behind and renew the contract in preparation for future needs. Participants were also asked to think about what work is needed to get more effective public policies, whether we need better evidence on the problems, more work to develop viable policy options, greater public buy-in, or more active political leadership.

This summary highlights the key themes that we heard across twelve facilitated group discussions, each of which brought together people with different experiences from different sectors. What follows is a summary of the main issues and ideas shared by participants.


Care and caregiving, Employment and labour, Housing and homelessness, Income security


A summary of the current and future policy challenges in the areas of work, income, housing and care from the working group discussions at Maytree’s Looking Ahead conference.