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Re:Action Forum

CivicAction, Leaders Lay Path for Collective COVID-19 Recovery at Re:Action Forum

150+ civic leaders gathered online to help generate ideas to help the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area rebuild.

TORONTO, June 15, 2020 — Bold ideas for a collective response to COVID-19 emerged from CivicAction’s Re:Action Forum last week, a virtual gathering of over 150 diverse senior and rising civic leaders from across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA).

The COVID-19 pandemic and recent demonstrations responding to long-standing, systemic anti-Black racism show that the time for civic leaders to unite and take action for a better future is now.

“To build better cities, we need civic leaders from all sectors and communities to come together and we saw that take place at the Re:Action Forum,” said Tamara Balan Interim CEO of CivicAction. “When we build together, we build better.”

Joined by leaders such as Toronto Mayor John Tory and Ontario Minister of Finance Rod Phillips, attendees linked-up digitally to participate in interactive labs on three critical issues for action: helping young people and those early in their career enter or re-enter the workforce; supporting mental wellbeing and combating loneliness; and nurturing and building trust in our communities and leaders.

“I’ve seen how effective our civic leaders can be when they unite and rally around a common goal,” said Mayor of Toronto John Tory. “The Re:Action Forum is one way in which we can have important discussions around our city’s response to the pandemic. I am happy to see such great support and engagement by leaders in our city.”

During the Re:Action Forum’s closing session, participants presented a number of ideas generated over the two days including:

  • Reimagine how we train young people so it is more nimble and responsive to the job market while making it more affordable and accessible – moving from a digital divide to a digital provide by engaging technology companies, governments, educational institutions, and businesses.
  • Improve how people connect and access job opportunities by linking leaders and youth through intentional paired networking and encourage employers to adopt more inclusive recruitment processes especially in their job descriptions.
  • Build social connections within communities and neighbourhoods to better serve vulnerable residents and connect youth and seniors to strengthen empathy and technology literacy.  
  • Implement a workplace wellness certification to hold employers accountable to mental wellbeing and highlight best practices with key stakeholders and decision makers across sectors.
  • Strengthen community trust by amplifying voices, convening safe spaces and empowering communities to have uncomfortable, but necessary conversations, to understand privilege and the stories of underrepresented groups.

“COVID-19 has both exacerbated and revealed inequities in our region,” said Zabeen Hirji, Chair of CivicAction, “Last week’s Re:Action Forum was an important step towards working together to to co-create a better future, one that works for all”.

The Re:Action Forum follows in the footsteps of many of CivicAction’s initiatives that responded to a crisis, such as the Toront03 Alliance that helped revitalize the Toronto tourism industry post-SARS; Escalator, launched in response to increased gun violence,  that helped youth facing barriers connect to networks, jobs and opportunities; and MindsMatter, an initiative that helped over 1,500 employers access a three-step action plan to foster better workplace mental health at a time when the World Health Organization was raising the same concerns.

In the coming weeks, CivicAction will release a summary report of the ideas and actions identified at the Forum and lay out its next steps for COVID-19 recovery. We look forward to continuing the collaboration with current and new partners. For more information on the Re:Action Forum and CivicAction’s other Re:Action initiatives, click here.




For more information, please contact:

Sarah Harris
VP, Partnerships and Engagement, CivicAction
C: 416-827-4542

Our thanks to Cision for sponsoring this announcement.

CivicAction would like to thank our Re:Action Forum Facilitation Partner Deloitte Greenhouse and Communication Partner Edelman Canada.

About CivicAction: Complex challenges need an all-hands-on deck approach, and collective impact is what CivicAction does best. A leading not-for-profit in Canada, we have nearly two decades of experience working to boost civic engagement and build better cities by creating and implementing effective solutions to the most pressing challenges in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area and beyond. To find out more, visit or follow @CivicActionGTHA.

Building on a decade of high-impact and award-winning leadership programming, CivicAction launched the CivicAction Leadership Foundation to deliver world-class programs that inspire, educate and build inclusive civic leadership. The Foundation harnesses the power of diverse leaders and empowers and activates all voices to influence and shape our region. For more information visit

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