Cities Reducing Poverty: When Business is Engaged is a national gathering of all sectors and individuals working on poverty reduction

Overall Experience | Preparing for the Summit | Workshops | Three-Day Learning Agenda (PDF)



We will be adding more agenda information about the highlights, key ideas, and workshops as the three-day agenda is developed and speakers are confirmed. Check this page regularly for the most up to date information. You can now also download the full the three-day learning agenda for a glance at our overall schedule (subject to change).

  • Learn about Mayor Fred Eisenberger and the City of Hamilton's plan to create a more vibrant local community through a 10-year $50M municipal investment in poverty reduction. 

  • Join Adam Vaughan, Member of Parliament for Spadina — Fort York, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, to learn about the Federal Government's development of a Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy, and experience a panel discussion on what needs to happen to reduce poverty in our country.

  • Hear from Alan Broadbent, Chairman and CEO of Avana Capital Corporation, and co-founder of Tamarack Institute, about the case for corporate involvement in poverty reduction work. Alan will share examples of how businesses are creating impact, and helping us to realize the critical social change we seek in our communities.

  • Consider the potential of collaborating with businesses to address poverty, through successes shared by David Alston, Chief Entrepreneur in Residence (CEIR) for the Government of New Brunswick. As co-chair of the local Social Renewal Strategy and board member of the Business Community Anti-Poverty Initiative (BCAPI), David will share his experience with this civic-minded business leaders and professionals group, whom founded BCAPI in 1997, as an effort to move beyond charity, and substantially reduce poverty in Saint John. 

  • Deepen your understanding of the roles that businesses are playing to address poverty, as leaders from the private sector take the stage and share their work on the living wage, financial empowerment, and more.

  • Attend a panel featuring mayors and civic leaders sharing stories and connecting their work on poverty reduction to advances, impacts, and innovations occurring in cities throughout Canada.

  • Weigh the pros and cons of the Basic Income movement with a panel discussion featuring Senator Art Eggleton and Michael Mendelson of the Caledon Institute of Social Policy.

  • Attend workshops delivered by civic, Indigenous, and community leaders on:

  • Collaborative efforts in Hamilton led by First Ontario Credit Union to develop an effective and replicable alternative to pay day lending.

  • Promising practices for Decent Work - policies for non-profits modelling dignified and supportive work environments for employees.

  • Igniting your own version of a successful business community, by diving deeper into the BCAPI story: how this network was formed, how it works, and why business leaders are so passionate about social renewal in Saint John.

  • Living Wage - identifying the real cost of living and engaging champions in your campaign.

  • Understanding the importance of addressing poverty through a Human Rights lens, and collaborate in-person to develop a Pan-Canadian Human Rights Community of Practice.

  • Models and approaches to social enterprise, and the role of Community Benefit Agreements.

  • Best pratices on making your story matter, with Senior Marketing Strategists Jeff Sage and Lindsay Sage of sagecomm.

  • And many more!



The gathering will convene at 8:30am EDT on April 4th and will finish by 1:00 pm EDT on April 6th. Plenary sessions will feature mayors and city councillors from cities large and small, Indigenous leaders, inspiring business leaders, people with lived experience of poverty, and community change-makers.


  • Community_Images_Drums02

    Follow-up with mayors and municipalities on their poverty reduction progress in the past year, and learn what others have been doing.

  • Meet your peers: network with community practitioners, mayors, city staff, business leaders, and people with lived experience who are working on local poverty reduction. Have intentional discussions together and deepen your engagement with one another.

  • Learn about creating inclusive, safe and culturally appropriate spaces at the roundtable for poverty reduction.

  • Discuss resource development - learn how to attract funding for your roundtable and sustain your poverty reduction efforts

*We are incredibly thankful for our brilliant network partners who are continually bringing great content to our attention. Our agenda is still being confirmed, and key ideas are subject to change.


By day, be whisked up the mountain and to various ends of the city to engage with innovative poverty reduction initiatives in the community.

  • Find yourself at an urban food farm that is quickly becoming a community hub;

  • Join us for a SoBi bicycle tour to explore Hamilton’s neighbourhoods from a placemaking perspective;

  • Delve into co-located services at Mohawk College's City School, the Circuit 4.0, and The Xperience Annex, helping youth access post-secondary and navigate the maze of community education and employment supports;

  • Wander the dynamic Evergreen Community Storefront's community marketplaces, featuring groups, organizations, businesses, and individuals that represent Hamilton’s uniquely engaged and active citizenry;

  • Visit the Threshold School of Building which teaches basic building skills and organizes active participation in affordable housing and community projects;

  • Discover the Eva Rothwell Centre and learn how they provide Keith neighbourhood residents with no-cost programming and resources which aim to help them meet their basic needs and reach their full potential;

  • Drop in to the Hamilton Community Food Centre and hear about how they bring community together to grow, cook, share, and advocate for good food for all;

  • Explore Mohawk College's Indigenous Gathering Space that honours First Nations, Métis and Inuit cultures, promotes cross-cultural awareness, and strengthens relationships with the local Aboriginal Community; and,

  • Participate in Hamilton's Neighbourhood Action Strategy workshop to learn about asset mapping and creating plans that lead to action.  

By night, attend two receptions where you will be able to enjoy and relax in an inspiring atmosphere with colleagues. On the first evening, you are invited to the new David Braley Centre for refreshments, a keynote delivered by Hamilton's Mayor Fred Eisenberger, the city's finest musical talents, a recognition ceremony, and leisure networking.

On the second evening, we encourage you to stretch your legs and join us next door at the Art Gallery of Hamilton - one of Canada's oldest public art galleries and the third largest in the country - for light finger foods, garden patio views of the city, and a collection of over 10,000 works of art. 



We are each coming to this summit to better understand and align our roles within collaborative poverty reduction efforts. Doing this will require thoughtful consideration, reflection, and dialogue. Consider some of the ways you can start your own process of inquiry and learning before arriving at the Summit. Here is a list of suggested reading to support your preparation:



Workshops offered on April 4th and 5th will bring to life models collaborative poverty reduction and high-impact success stories from the perspective of multiple sectors. In total, we will host 21 workshops over three sessions over Day 1 and Day 2. Workshops are currently being confirmed and will be updated here on an ongoing basis. Please check back frequently for the most up-to-date list.

You may consider attending the summit as a group of 2 or more in order to attend a wider range of workshops with the intent of sharing more knowledge with your organization or initiative. Workshop schedules will be made available in advance so that you can plan your attendance. Group discounts are available. For more information - visit our Registration Information page.


ROUND ONE - April 4 - 2:00-3:30 pm EDT


Reversing Fortunes: Cities Building Community Wealth
Colette Murphy, Atkinson Foundation; Leena Sharma Seth, Halton Poverty Roundtable; Ian Troop, Halton Poverty Roundtable; Rosemarie Powell, Toronto Community Benefits Network; Denise Andrea Campbell, City of Toronto

Moderated by Colette Murphy, this panel will profile four perspectives on the problem of poverty and the promise of community wealth building strategies. Leena Sharma Seth from the Halton Poverty Roundtable will describe how thinking differently about her community’s assets and liabilities is changing her approach to poverty reduction. Denise Andrea Campbell from the City of Toronto will talk about social procurement as a tool for sharing economic opportunities more equitably in a large, diverse urban centre. Ian Troop will offer a view from the C-Suite and explain how he used the Pan Am Games’ supply chain to increase the community’s net worth. Rosemarie Powell from the Toronto Community Benefits Network will tell the story behind the Premier of Ontario’s recent announcement of a Community Benefits Declaration tied to the development of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT.

Engaging Business – What works? 
David Alston, Government of New Brunswick; Monica Chaperlin, BCAPI; Donna Gates, Living SJ

This interactive workshop will explore the fundamentals of how to engage business leaders in a community-led poverty reduction movement. The successful BCAPI model (link to the BCAPI article written for Tamarack?) and how it contributes to the poverty reduction movement in Saint John, N.B. will be highlighted as one example. Workshop participants will add their experiences and analysis to help create a top 10 ‘how to’ list.


Meeting People Where They Are – Paradigm Shifting Community Impact              
Sandra Huculak, ATB Financial; Jordan Reiniger, Boyle Street Community Services

Blessed with the necessary moral authority that comes with the careful management of assets and savings, along with exceptional financial infrastructure, tools and staff, financial institutions have an incredible opportunity to make an impact in their community, even within the confines of their own mandate. ATB Financial’s Managing Director of Corporate Social Responsibility Sandra Huculak examines the evolution of a just such an impact opportunity in Edmonton, Alberta’s inner city. Through careful consultation, strong community-level partnerships, innovative service delivery and even cutting edge tech solutions, the ATB-supported Four Directions Financial provides homeless and at-risk inner city clients access to essential mainstream financial services. During this workshop, Sandra will explore the case study and engage attendees in the principles of paradigm-shifting financial services with her partner Jordan Reiniger, Director of Programs and Development from Boyle Street Community Services.


Women's Housing & Responding to Women's Homelessness      
Deirdre Pike, Social and Research Planning Council; Katherine Kalinowski, Good Shepherd Centres

Knowledge sharing and applying a gender lens are crucial in order to have a collective and more powerful voice when it comes to addressing the unique needs of women experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Learn how essential it is to surrender our silos in order to ensure that the women we are serving are central when determining solutions. Participants will leave the workshop with an understanding and an urgent call to respond collaboratively and to applying a gender lens to the issue of women and homelessness.


Public Markets engines of Sustainable Urban Development         
Marina Quierolo, Evergreen; Corry Ouellette, Sorauren Farmers’ Market West End Food Co-op; Lyna Saad, Scadding Court Community Center; Brittani Farrington, Karam Kitchen & Kitchen Collective; Tara Ramkhlawan, Food Share; Patricia Reid, McQuesten Urban Farm; 

Public Markets connect food, culture and community. They are dynamic and safe spaces that act as engines for local entrepreneurship, placemaking and city-building. As vital centers of exchange, they are the ultimate community development tool as they bring together social, economic and environmental impacts. In this workshop through published research and case studies, participants will be learn about Public Markets as a tool that contribute to sustainable urban development by addressing issues such as: Poverty and social isolation;  Access to healthy food; Promotion of entrepreneurship and innovation;   Strengthening the connection between rural and urban environments. By the end of the session participants will learn and be inspired by local and global initiatives and take back home concrete examples that can be implemented in their organizations and cities.   


Intimate conservations on Indigenous Reality (“I AM AFFECTED & I AM COMMITTED” Campaign) 
Tara Williams, De dwa da dehs nye>s Aboriginal Health Centre  

In this workshop, participants will learn about the historical impacts of Intergenerational Trauma of Indigenous peoples and then take part in intimate conversations (Talking Circles) with Indigenous peoples about the historical impacts on their daily lives.  


A Game Changer Approach to Poverty Reduction Strategy and Evaluation             
Alison Homer, Tamarack; Mark Holmgren, Tamarack

Tamarack’s Vibrant Communities Canada has developed an innovative “Game Changer” approach to poverty reduction strategy and evaluation that helps overcome some of the field’s unique challenges. This approach highlights eight priority areas and strategies that elicit an array of positive, significant, and cascading outcomes towards reducing poverty. In this workshop, explore how a Game Changer approach can highlight new ways of focusing on big change possibilities, provide a frame for decision-making, clarify and advance Collective Impact efforts, emphasize progress over proof, and influence large scale policy and systems change.      


ROUND TWO - April 4 - 4:00-5:30 pm EDT


The Fight for Decent Work
Tom Cooper, Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction; Pam Frache, Workers Action Centre; Sara Mojtehedzadeh, Toronto Star; Jenn Miller, Atkinson Foundation; Sara Jama & Nusrat Mir, McMaster-Community Poverty Initiative; Cathy Taylor, Ontario Nonprofit Network

Precarious work is on the rise, while workers are challenged between short-term contracts, low pay, no sick time and erratic scheduling.  This workshop will examine the changing workplace, working poverty and the challenges employees are facing. You'll find out how organizations are advocating for improvements to workers’ rights and changing conversations about the need for decent work.     


2020 Vision for 2020
Jan Morton, Community Skills Centre 

Come learn about ways a community in southeast BC is working to reduce poverty through both a gender and rural economic development lens.  With Status of Women Canada funding, we developed a plan to improve economic opportunities for women which has guided initiatives to improve access to training as well as employment in higher wage, non-traditional work.    You’ll also learn about an exciting mentorship program being delivered in collaboration with Teck Metals Ltd., our region’s largest employer to support the retention and advancement of women in non-traditional employment.


Financial empowerment in Canada – Collaborations with businesses to reduce poverty 
Marlene Chiarotto and Glenna Harris, Prosper Canada  

Join Prosper Canada and partners from CPA Ontario, Pooran Law, ESDC, and SmartSAVER to learn how the business sector and community organizations are working together to improve the financial well-being of Canadians, through financial empowerment interventions. Financial empowerment is an approach to poverty reduction that focuses on helping people living on low incomes to measurably improve financial outcomes and enhances their access to proven routes to prosperity. The private sector plays a critical role in ensuring that Canadians living in poverty are provided with the financial information, tools and supports to achieve greater financial well-being. Panelists will share how their financial empowerment interventions help Canadians in poverty to grow their incomes, improve their credit, savings and debt levels, and build wealth. 


From Awareness to Action: Positioning challenging social issues for maximum engagement         
Jeff Sage and Lindsay Sage, sagecomm; Jennifer Smith, London Child & Youth Network 

The work you do is critical to the strength of Canadian communities. But telling that story isn’t so simple. In fact, it’s highly complex, fraught with misunderstanding, a multitude of stakeholders, and a highly competitive and “noisy” social landscape. (Never mind the rise of fake news!) Making your cause matter more goes beyond awareness and understanding to the conversion of energized actors who will champion your story far and wide.  Join the senior marketing strategists of sagecomm for an interactive workshop on best practices and lessons learned from ongoing work with charitable causes and brands across North America, from poverty to violence against women, including a case study presented in partnership with the team from London’s Child & Youth Network.


New approaches to rental housing development               
Derek Ballantyne, Encasa

Most communities face shortages of affordable rental housing. Limited new housing development over the past decade and government housing program cutbacks have intensified the issues of housing affordability. New federal spending commitments on housing will not solve the issues being faced by low income households. There is a need for new approaches to generating more affordable rental housing. The workshop will explore new approaches to rental housing development and new financial tools being developed that assist in leveraging scarce public resources. The approach will focus soon examples of how new housing is being produced by both the non-profit and private sectors, and the opportunities for a leadership role of all orders of government.                


Addressing Poverty and Reconciliation in Edmonton

Bishop Jane Alexander and Shannon Hebden, EndPovertyEdmonton

This workshop presentation will provide a sense of how Edmonton developed a holistic community Strategy to end poverty in a generation- one that is rooted in human rights and reconciliation. You'll hear about how an Indigenous world view and strong Indigenous participation has informed a bold approach to poverty elimination and shaped the trajectory of this collective effort.  EndPovertyEdmonton speakers will share this journey, the challenges and the early successes experienced as they mobilized a community around key Game Changing actions to address systemic racism, shift attitudes and advance human rights. 


Storytelling with Purpose: Lessons from Hamilton's Speak Now Speakers Bureau                
Naseem Sherwani, Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction (Speak Now)

Hamilton's Speak Now is a group of individuals from Hamilton who have been shifting attitudes about what it's like to experience poverty and social exclusion. Speak Now members have diverse, lived experiences and have shared their stories in more than 200 presentations to local community and faith groups, in schools and at public hearings as well as through the media to change attitudes and policies.  This workshop will provide an opportunity to hear their stories, and engage with members of this speaker's bureau. Speak Now members will provide strategies on how to engage people with the lived experience in poverty reduction work, on local boards and in policy development.         


ROUND THREE - April 5 - 11:00 - 12:30 pm EDT


The Living Wage                
Deirdre Pike, Social Planning & Research Council of Hamilton; Greg deGroot-Maggetti, Ontario Living Wage Network/Living Wage Waterloo; Kate doForno, Prosperity Roundtable of Chatham-Kent; Kelly Watson, People and Development-Muskoka Brewery; Don Wells, McMaster University Department of Labour Studies

There's a growing living wage movement in communities across Canada. Unlike the minimum wage, living wages are set at the community-level and encourage progressive local employers and organizations to set a higher standard for workers' wages.  This workshop will provide some history on the Canadian Living Wage movement, and why it's growing.  You will learn why employers in the private sector are championing the idea of living wage, why local governments are taking the lead and what you can do to start or scale-up a local living wage initiative in your community. 


Edmonton Using CED Towards Poverty Reduction              
Martin Garber-Conrad, Edmonton Community Foundation; Carman McNary, Dentons LLP

The creation of a Community Development Corporation (CDC) is one of the key strategies coming out of the End Poverty Edmonton task force which had significant multi-sector participation throughout its life.  The CDC will use Community Economic Development (CED) and social purpose real estate to create employment opportunities for low-income residents, develop affordable housing, and build individual and community assets.  The property development, banking, Aboriginal business and legal community are contributing expertise and, perhaps, other resources to the effort.


Alternatives to Predatory Lending 
Mary De Sousa, FirstOntario Credit Union; Denise Christopherson, YWCA Hamilton; Monica Ciriello, City of Hamilton

Through an informative introduction and community insight, engage in a workshop that explores an alternative solution to breaking the cycle of debt for those who rely on payday lenders. 


Partnering for Success: Community-Campus Engagements that Move the Needle on Poverty and Housing Security
Mike Bulthuis, Alliance to End Homelessness Ottawa; Karen Schwartz, Carleton University; and Aaron Kozak, Carleton University 

Community First: Impacts of Community Engagement (CFICE) representatives from the Poverty Reduction Hub and Tools for Community-First Community Campus Engagement will present lessons for strategic Community-Campus Engagement (CCE) for locally-based poverty reduction work, based on 4-years of research and analysis with Cities Reducing Poverty members. This will be a session presenting the case for, and outcomes from, collaborative CCE partnerships, including: policy shifts, increasing assets, engaging champions, and making the case to funders. The session will engage participants to share their own CCE experiences and needs, to provide insights for deploying the final CCE toolkit.


Social Enterprise: A Tool for Building Healthy Communities
Mike Toye, Canadian Community Economic Development Network (CCED-Net); and David LePage, Buy Social Canada

Social Enterprise is rapidly growing as a powerful tool to build healthy communities by strengthening community capitals. This workshop will illustrate the five keys for successful social enterprise development and how an ecosystem approach can foster an enabling environment for social enterprises to thrive.                 


Deepening our culture of rights: building a community of practice around economic and social rights in Canada                 
Effie Vlachoyannacos, Maytree; Kate Butler, Maytree

Workshop participants will engage in a discussion about how human rights are experienced and realized in Canada, and their role in addressing the systems that create poverty. Participants will explore how to advance a culture of economic and social rights in Canada and how we can build a community of practice around human rights.    


The City School Approach to Education and Poverty Reduction 
Natalie Shearer, Mohawk College; Jeremy Atkinson, Mohawk College; Alan Bourke, Mohawk College; Emily Ecker, Mohawk College

Through a combination of lecture and discussion, the workshop will introduce participants to the guiding rationale informing the initial development of City School by Mohawk and will address the challenges involved in fostering a community-engaged and evidence-based response to educational disparities. Participants will look closely at how education fits into a landscape of poverty reduction, with particular focus on how education and businesses can work together to affect change in Hamilton.    



Agenda Overview

Download the detailed three-day learning agenda here. Please note that this agenda is subject to change.

Day 1 

8:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.

8:30: Welcome & Opening

9:20: Framing the Discussion

9:50: When Business is Engaged Panel

10:30: Break

11:00: How Business Leaders Will Join your Quest

11:30: Keynote

12:00: Food Security: It's Time to Act

12:45: Lunch/Table Talks

2:00: Workshops Round 1

3:30: Break

4:00: Workshops Round 2

5:45: Mayors Reception

7:00: Day Ends


Day 2

8:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.

8:30: Welcome & Framing

8:50: Keynote

9:45: Cities Reducing Poverty Panel

10:30: Break

11:00: Workshops Round 3

12:30: Lunch

1:30: Hamilton Roundtable Story

2:00: Introduction to City Tours

2:15: Neighbourhood Bus Tours

5:30: Networking Reception

7:00: Day Ends


Day 3

8:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

8:30: Welcome & Framing

8:50: Towards a Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy

10:00: Break

10:30: Is Basic Income the Answer?

11:30: Keynote

12:00: Closing

1:00: Day Ends