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CivicAction (legal name the Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance, formerly the Toronto City Summit Alliance) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization coalition based in Toronto that works with senior and emerging leaders from the business, government, labour, academic and community sectors to address urban challenges in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA). 


CivicAction is a non-profit, non-partisan organization formed to address challenges to the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area’s social and economic future. It was created by David Pecaut following a 2002 summit of business and community leaders.[1] Pecaut led a 40-member steering committee that generated Enough Talk: An Action Plan for the Toronto Region, which provided the roadmap for the organization's focus on issues where there was a clear consensus for action and where it felt progress could be made quickly. CivicAction adopted its current name in December 2010.

Following Enough Talk, the committee created a non-profit corporation to convene leaders from all sectors to work together to tackle specific social and economic challenges.

Leadership and Staff[edit]

CivicAction is led by a Board of Directors and a small team of dedicated staff including current CEO Sevaun Palvetzian.

Past and present Board Chairs:

Regional Summits[edit]

Every four years, CivicAction holds a summit to identify the biggest issues facing the region. Out of the summit, CivicAction sets its agenda for the next four years and launches initiatives and campaigns to help tackle these issues. These summits bring hundreds of civic leaders from the business, industry, academic, non-profit and community sectors to collaborate, connect and provide insight on what next steps should be considered.    

 The fourth CivicAction Summit “Better City Bootcamp” was held on April 28, 2015 and focused on the following five interrelated themes:

  • Housing affordability and the growing need to match seniors’ healthcare to housing options.
  • Mental health in the workplace.
  • The importance of the “first 1000 days.”
  • Public space: For the health of our people and communities.
  • Increased density and weather intensity and the infrastructure needs of tomorrow.

CivicAction Leadership Foundation[edit]

The CivicAction Leadership Foundation is the charitable arm of CivicAction and was launched in 2017. It is a registered charity that provides leadership programs in the GTHA. The Foundation’s mission is to develop diverse leadership within the region and to provide a platform for greater inclusion and empowerment of all voices in the GTHA. 

Current Programs

DiverseCity Fellows

DiverseCity Fellows is an award-winning fellowship program for diverse rising leaders in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA). The Fellowship came out of DiverseCity: The Greater Toronto Leadership Project, a partnership between Maytree and CivicAction, which identified the need for more diverse leadership in the GTHA. The program focuses on inclusive leadership and provides participants with opportunities for personal development. It also focuses on growing a strong network of civic-minded peers across sectors. Each year, the program selects approximately 25 rising leaders who represent all sectors and communities within the GTHA. To date, over 200 individuals have completed the DiverseCity Fellows program.

Emerging Leaders Network

Launched in 2006, CivicAction's Emerging Leaders Network comprises over 1000 rising leaders and represents a wide range of ethno-cultural backgrounds, communities, and sectors in the GTHA. Each year ELN offers more than 30 events to build the skills of young leaders. ELN members have led high-impact projects such as the Pan Am Path, Toronto Homecoming, and Project Neutral.

Current Initiatives[edit]

Escalator: Jobs for Youth Facing Barriers

Escalator: Job for Youth Facing Barriers addresses the issue of youth unemployment through programming that involves the private, public and community sectors. This initiative has included a number of regional programs that provide job search skills (YouthConnect) and mentorship opportunities (netWORKS). NPower Canada, an IT skills training program for youth between the ages of 18 and 29, was also launched via the Escalator initiative. Future work includes the development of an online employer self-assessment tool to hire youth; a series of case studies of employers piloting new HR policies; and sector roundtables for case study participants to share lessons and insight from their work. Escalator was launched in September 2014.

Mental Health in the Workplace – MindsMatter

The Mental Health in the Workplace initiative aims help GTHA employers better support their employees’ mental health through simple workplace initiatives. This is mainly accomplished through MindsMatter, an online assessment tool for employers to gauge where they currently stand in their mental health supporting journey. This initiative was launched in April 2016.  

Infrastructure in the GTHA

CivicAction has worked with a variety of organizations on two separate interventions that focus on important infrastructure issues. The first was a series of roundtables and interviews with civic and community leaders from across the GTHA that followed the Canadian federal government’s announcement of $60 billion in infrastructure funding in 2016. These roundtables resulted in the report Ensuring We Get It Right, which features four recommendations to help guide infrastructure investment decisions. The second intervention was a forum with representatives from the private, public, non-profit, and community sectors to discuss strategies to engage and motivate Toronto region homeowners to minimize their vulnerability to flood risk. A report outlining the major conclusions resulting from the forum is being developed.     

Better Child Care in the GTHA

CivicAction worked with the Ontario Ministry of Education to lead consultations with employers to inform the Renewed Early Years and Child Care Framework and Expansion Strategy. 31 different employers from across Ontario contributed through a series of one-on-one interviews and a roundtable meeting in January 2017. The consultations had employers identify the ideal state of child care, opportunities for success, and barriers to action. 

Past Initiatives[edit]

Over 7000 people in the Toronto region have been involved in projects CivicAction has developed and supported, including:

Toront03 Alliance: Raised and invested over $11 million in post-SARS tourism recovery and branding, leading to over $80 million in economic benefit for Ontario;

Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC): Developed in partnership with The Maytree Foundation, TRIEC's Mentoring Partnership has created 4200 mentoring matches and Career Bridge has facilitated over 1000 internships (close to 80% of Career Bridge interns have secured full-time work in their field);

Strong Neighbourhoods Task Force: A collaborative effort of United Way Toronto, the City of Toronto and the Alliance, the Task Force created a plan to revitalize neighbourhoods, identifying 13 as priorities for investment;

Modernizing Income Security for Working-Age Adults (MISWAA) Task Force: Developed a roadmap to modernize income security to ensure the full economic participation of working-age adults. An initiative of the Alliance and St. Christopher House, MISWAA helped to bring about the federal Working Income Tax Benefit, the new Ontario Child Benefit, and a provincial dental plan;

Toronto Region Research Alliance: United governments, technology-based companies, colleges and universities and financial institutions in attracting major investments and promoting research in the Golden Horseshoe;

Luminato: Initially incubated within CivicAction, this annual $15 million international festival capitalizes on Toronto’s strong cultural and tourism assets. It features artists from across Canada and abroad and attracted over one million participants in 2007 and again in 2008. For more information, visit:

Your32 campaign: Launched in the fall of 2012,[3] CivicAction's Your32 regional transportation campaign brought citizens, community leaders, and elected officials together to build public support for a better and financially sustainable regional transportation system. The campaign saw half of all elected officials from across the GTHA and across levels of government join thousands of residents to pledge their support for new sources of funding for transportation, resulting in a $15 billion dedicated investment in regional transportation for the GTHA in the July 2014 Ontario budget.

Greening Greater Toronto The 120-member Greening Greater Toronto Task Force and Working Groups charted a plan to help the GTA become the greenest city region in North America. Greening Greater Toronto's flagship project was the Race to Reduce, a four-year corporate challenge to reduce energy consumption in participating office buildings by 10% from 2011-2015. By 2015, Race to Reduce participants dropped nearly 193 million ekWh or 12.1 per cent in collective energy use over four years, equivalent to taking more than 4,200 cars off the road and putting $13.7 million back into office landlords’ and tenants’ pockets. The Race to Reduce became one of the largest regional energy challenges in the world, with 196 buildings participating representing more than 69 million square feet or 42 per cent of the commercial office space in the GTA. The Race has garnered industry acclaim and was recognized as the Canadian recipient of the 2015 Energy Globe [5] world award for sustainability, along with the Green Award of the Year at the NAIOP 2013 Greater Toronto chapter’s Real Estate Excellence awards.


  1. ^ "Knelman: David Pecaut, 54: 'Greatest mayor Toronto never had' | Toronto Star". Retrieved 2017-06-16. 
  2. ^ "Postmedia Network chairman Rod Phillips appointed head of CivicAction". National Post. Retrieved 2017-06-16. 
  3. ^ "Anti-gridlock campaign: How would you spend an extra 32 minutes a day? | Toronto Star". Retrieved 2017-06-16. 

External links[edit]