Strong cities

Today, more than 80 per cent of us live in cities. Canada’s cities are the principal economic, social and cultural drivers of the country; however, our cities are struggling to meet the 21st century challenges we face.

At Maytree, we invest in efforts to strengthen our cities because we believe that if we can build a city that works for people with low incomes, it will work for immigrants and refugees, it will work for people living with disabilities, and for the young and for the old. In short, it will work for all of us.

We envision a “Strong City” to be one in which:

  • Human rights principles and laws are respected and built into the local decision-making process;
  • Local governments are empowered through appropriate fiscal and legal tools to solve local challenges; and
  • Residents from all walks of life are able to participate in shaping the city they call home.

Learn more about Maytree’s work in this area:

Human Rights Cities. Governments at all levels have a legal obligation to fulfill human rights, yet the function of local government remains overlooked. In upcoming research, we will explore the crucial role cities play in promoting and protecting human rights, based on recent developments in Canada and around the world.

Canadian Urban Institute (CUI). Maytree is supporting CUI to deliver a series of “Urban Residencies,” which will provide local city builders with opportunities to highlight to a national audience what’s working, what’s not, and what they see as next – their most pressing issues and promising opportunities. The Urban Residencies are part of CUI broader agenda to build new forms of connective tissue across cities, create platforms for learning and exchange, and build a compelling new narrative for urban Canada.

The Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance (IMFG) at the University of Toronto. IMFG explores how cities fund their activities and govern themselves through extensive research both in Canada and globally. It also holds an ongoing series of events to present and debate the ideas that influence how are cities are run.

Relevant publications

Article

Published on 02/06/2017

Voluntary collaborations between small- and medium-sized cities could increase efficiency and strengthen regional political cohesion.

For the last few decades, there has been a growing commentary on Canada’s anachronistic approach to its biggest cities. Over the 150 years of our country’s history, our large cities have become economic, social and cultural engines. But they remain locked into a constitutional structure from the time of Confederation which limits their powers, governance […]

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Opinion

Published on 03/02/2017

We need cities to manage their own choices in the local political arena.

Last fall, Toronto Mayor John Tory demonstrated some political courage in proposing road tolls on the city-owned Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway as a source of revenue to pay for needed infrastructure improvements. In his political leadership on the file, and in the support of Toronto City Council for the decision, there was a […]

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Opinion

Published on 29/08/2016

By refusing to develop new revenue sources and insisting on “trimming the fat” instead, municipal politicians are playing a dangerous budget shell game.

You often hear people say that “there is only one taxpayer,” no matter how many governments make a claim on that taxpayer’s money. Listening to governments talk, though, the notion seems to be lost, especially at the municipal level. Across Canada in our cities, mayors and councillors want the federal and provincial governments to pay […]

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Speech

Published on 05/04/2016

Welcome address at the Tamarack conference Cities Reducing Poverty: When Mayors Lead on April 5, 2016 in Edmonton.

Welcome address at the Tamarack conference Cities Reducing Poverty: When Mayors Lead on April 5, 2016 in Edmonton. It is a pleasure to welcome you on behalf of Tamarack. And a particular pleasure for me because of the presence of so many mayors and councillors. I’ve worked for a number of years to highlight the […]

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Speech

Published on 22/02/2016

Oral presentation on February 22, 2016 at Canada’s review by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Oral presentation on February 22, 2016 at Canada’s review by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Good morning committee members, delegates and members of civil society organizations. My name is Elizabeth McIsaac and I’m the president of Maytree, a private charitable foundation based in Toronto, Canada. At Maytree, we are focused on […]

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Submission

Published on 16/02/2016

This submission to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights makes four recommendations on the role of cities in protecting our rights.

Are Canada and its cities doing enough to protect everyone’s economic and social rights, including the rights of our most vulnerable populations? A review by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to get underway next week in Geneva, will soon let us know. Canada’s obligations to protect the economic and social rights […]

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