Summit speakers hope to inspire action on social inclusion

Three members of the Toronto City Summit Alliance will be the featured speakers as the Atkinson Public Lecture Series tackles the issue of social inclusion and how it relates to economic prosperity and sustainability.

The lecture will be held Wednesday in the Robert McEwen Auditorium, Seymour Schulich Building, from 7 to 8:30pm, followed by a reception in the CIBC Marketplace.


    Above: Speakers Pigott, Lankin, Coolican

The evening will include presentations by Frances Lankin, president and CEO of the United Way of Greater Toronto, Murray Coolican, vice-president corporate affairs for Manulife Financial, and Susan Pigott, CEO of Toronto’s St. Christopher House. The talks are all based on the Alliance action plan titled Enough Talk: An Action Plan for the Toronto Region (2003).

“The event that gave rise to Enough Talk was unique,” said Rhonda Lenton, dean of the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, which is sponsoring the event along with the Office of the President. “It brought together representatives from business, the labour movement, local community groups and academe to discuss the future of Toronto, the importance of getting our own house in order, and how to ensure the social and economic vibrancy of our city.”

In her lecture, Lankin will discuss the findings of the task force, which recommend multi-pronged solutions for stronger neighbourhoods in Toronto, published in a report titled Strong Neighbourhoods Task Force: Call to Action, released in June. Lankin, who led the United Way to its most successful fundraising campaign ever, raising $84.3 million, is the former MPP for Beaches-Woodbine in Toronto and held several cabinet posts in the Bob Rae NDP government before leaving politics in 2001.

Coolican, a former Chair of the United Way of Halifax Region, will talk about the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council,a multi-stakeholder collaboration established in September 2003. The group comprises members representing employers, labour, occupational regulatory bodies, postsecondary institutions, assessment service providers, community organizations, and all three orders of government. The council is working to improve access to employment for immigrants in the Toronto region, so they are better able to use the skills, education and experience they bring with them to Canada.

Pigott, who has worked with low-income community members and leading policy experts, will present a talk titled, “Modernizing Income Security for Working Age Adults.” St. Christopher House is a west Toronto-based neighbourhood centre that has supported individuals, families and groups for the past 92 years.

The Atkinson Public Lecture Series is aimed at encouraging civic participation, Lenton said. “Our faculty, staff and students are all stakeholders in this shared dialogue and we must continue to work together with our community, government and industry partners to contribute to the well-being of our city and our citizens.”

The Toronto City Summit Alliance is a coalition of leaders in the Toronto Region from the non-profit, academic, business, and government sectors of civil society. The Alliance was formed to address challenges to the future of Toronto such as expanding knowledge-based industry, poor economic integration of immigrants, decaying infrastructure and a shortage of affordable housing. In April 2003, the TCSA published Enough Talk: An Action Plan for the Toronto Region, focusing on issues where there was a clear consensus for action and where progress could be made quickly. Since then, the TCSA has been advocating for its recommendations and working with community partners and with governments towards their implementation.

For more information and to RSVP for this event, email, call ext. 55220 or reply online at