Past Food For Thought Events

Just Like a Girl: The Female Poverty Trap

Thank you to our panel: family physician and health justice activist Dr. Ritika Goel, Deena Ladd of Workers’ Action Centre, Armine Yalnizyan of Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and moderator Alex Johnston of Catalyst Canada.

Read this recap, listen to the podcast, or watch this video of the onstage conversation:

Dr. Ritika Goel is a family physician with the Inner City Health Associates in Toronto. She has an MD from McMaster University, family medicine training from St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto and a Master of Public Health from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. Her clinical work is with people experiencing or at-risk of homelessness as well as migrants with precarious immigration status. Ritika is a board member and volunteer physician at the Scarborough Community Volunteer Clinic for the Uninsured and co-chair of the Ontario College of Family Physicians’ Poverty and Health Committee. She works on various social justice issues through organizations such as Health for All and Canadian Doctors for Medicare.

Deena Ladd is the co-ordinator of the Workers’ Action Centre. The Workers’ Action Centre works with predominantly low-waged immigrant workers and workers of colour in precarious jobs that face discrimination, violations of rights, and no benefits in the workplace.

Armine Yalnizyan is one of Canada’s leading progressive economists. She joined the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives as senior economist in 2008. Armine has a twice weekly business column on CBC Radio’s biggest morning show, Metro Morning, reaching a million listeners in the Greater Toronto Area. She also appears weekly on the Big Picture Panel, featured Wednesdays on CBC TV’s premier business show The Exchange with Amanda Lang (formerly The Lang and O’Leary Exchange), and contributes to Globe and Mail’s Debates. Armine sits on the advisory board of the Institute for Population and Public Health, one of 13 Canadian Institutes for Health Research. She is also Vice President of the Canadian Association for Business Economics.

Alex Johnston leads the Catalyst Canada office and is responsible for shaping a strategy for Catalyst’s continued growth and member engagement in Canada. Alex comes to Catalyst with more than a decade of leadership experience in the public and private sectors. She practiced law, with a general corporate and commercial law practice in mergers and acquisitions, private placements, and corporate re-organizations at Goodmans LLP before joining the office of Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty in 2003, where she served as Executive Director of Policy. In this role, she worked closely with policy, community, and business leaders and with senior members of government to develop, implement, and communicate the Government’s agenda. She played a key role in advancing a progressive women’s agenda, including initiatives to support women’s economic independence and health. A long-time advocate for women, Alex was a founding member of the first student-run sexual assault center in Canada, served as a legal advisor in a shelter for women and children, and after living in China for two years, began graduate studies on Chinese women’s legal rights and experience with the justice system. Alex is fluently bilingual and holds a BA, LLB, and BCL from McGill University. She grew up in Montreal and now lives in Toronto where she and her husband are raising their three young children.

In partnership with:

Maytree: For leaders. For Change.


Mind the Gap: Income Inequality & The Health of Our City

Thank you to our panel: Gary Bloch, family physician at St. Michael’s Hospital; Trish Hennessy, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives; Kwame McKenzie, CEO of the Wellesley Institute; and our moderator, Rachel Giese.

Listen to the podcast of this event, and other Food For Thought events.

Gary Bloch is a family physician with St. Michael’s Hospital and with the homeless service group Inner City Health Associates in Toronto. For over a decade, he has focused his clinical, research, advocacy, and educational energies on exploring the link between health and poverty, and specifically on what health providers can do to reduce the impact of this major determinant of health. He is Chair of the Ontario College of Family Physicians’ Committee on Poverty and Health, and a Founding Member of Health Providers Against Poverty.

Trish Hennessy is the founding director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ (CCPA) Ontario office. She also founded and directed the CCPA’s national project examining income inequality in Canada, which began in 2006. Trish is a former newspaper journalist. She has a B.A. Sociology from Queen’s University, B.S.W. from Carleton University, and M.A. in Sociology from OISE/University of Toronto.

Kwame McKenzie is CEO of the Wellesley Institute. He is an international expert on the social causes of mental illness, suicide, and the development of effective, equitable health systems. Dr. McKenzie is also the medical director responsible for Dual Diagnosis, Child Youth and Family and Geriatric services, and director of Health Equity at CAMH. He is a professor and the co-director of the Division of Equity Gender and Population in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. Dr. McKenzie is president of the Canadian Mental Health Association in Toronto, is on the board of United Way Toronto, and had a role in the development of the Mental Health Strategy for Canada.

Rachel Giese is a Toronto journalist. She has worked as an editor at The GridThe Walrus, and Chatelaine, and her writing has been nominated for multiple National Magazine Awards.