Helen Burstyn

Social Enterprise in Ontario – Overview and Opportunities

In Ontario, and around the world, the social enterprise sector is experiencing rapid growth and gaining momentum in terms of grass-roots entrepreneurialism, impact investing, and the convergence (or blurring) of the traditional for-profit & not-for-profit sectors.   Ontario is currently home to roughly 10,000 social enterprises, with more starting every day. What are some key opportunities and challenges facing social entrepreneurs today, and how can Ontario best position itself as a jurisdiction to take advantage of opportunities in this space?

About Helen Burstyn

Helen Burstyn has enjoyed a 30-year career in government, business, and community service. She is currently a Principal at Counsel Public Affairs and serves as Special Advisor, Social Enterprise to the Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation, Government of Ontario.  


Helen is the former Chair of the Ontario Trillium Foundation, a government agency that makes grants to not-for-profit and charitable organizations in the social services, arts and culture, sports and recreation, and environment sectors. In 2010/2011, together with Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Dr. Eric Hoskins, she co-chaired The Partnership Project, an Ontario government initiative to strengthen the not-for-profit and voluntary sectors in the province. She continues to chair the Partnership Forum, an advisory body on the not-for-profit and charitable sector. 


Helen sits on the boards of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Luminato, The Walrus Foundation, the Canadian Journalism Foundation, The Learning Partnership, Harmony Hall, and the Koffler Centre for the Arts. With The Boston Consulting Group and MaRS, she recently co-founded the Pecaut Centre for Social Impact, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating the next generation of social entrepreneurs.  She is also a founder, past-president, and honorary board chair of Gilda's Club Greater Toronto and a founding member of Equal Voice. She served on the boards of the Canadian Club of Toronto (Past President), Canadian Stage Company, City of Toronto War of 1812 Commemorative Committee, and the Mayor’s Task Force on the Arts. In the 2011 general election, she was the provincial Liberal Candidate for Beaches-East York.  

Helen received the YWCA Women of Distinction Award for Community Leadership in 2010 and the Ontario Citizenship Award for Volunteer Service that same year. She has four daughters and a granddaughter and lives in Toronto. 

2016 Summer Conference

The Canada Project

Identity, Citizenship, and Nationhood in a Changing World

August 5-7, 2016
The YMCA Geneva Park Conference Centre, Orillia, ON

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Couchiching Connects
April 2017
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