June 5, 2020
This week I spoke about the importance of dismantling the structural anti-Black racism and oppression faced by WCH patients, staff, physicians and community. We pride ourselves on being an organization committed to equity and to serving and removing barriers for diverse groups. To live up to that commitment, we need to do better – I need to do better – in the areas where we fall short.
Many of you – including BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) members of the WCH community – have followed up on my message last week and my statement at the Town Hall and asked us to take action in more visible and tangible ways to reduce racism and oppression at WCH and across our society. Some have suggested a council or committee focused on equity and issues such as horizontal violence, anti-racism, and anti-oppression; others have recommended mandatory anti-racism and anti-oppression training; and others still have asked that the burden of addressing racism at WCH not be downloaded to those who experience it, but that the responsibility be taken by those who benefit from racist institutional structures.
We know we must continue to advance anti- racism and anti-oppression strategies at WCH. While a more comprehensive plan and strategy must be put in place, I also want to signal my intent as a leader by implementing some actions immediately. I will continue to welcome your advice, expertise and suggestions for further action, because this is not yet a full or formalized action plan, but rather a few early actions we are undertaking to ensure that the leaders in the organization and members of the WCH community are clear on and share in this commitment.
- The entire leadership team will complete anti-Black racism/anti-oppression training in the next 8 weeks.
- All Directors and Chiefs will similarly complete anti-Black racism/anti-oppression training in the next 12 weeks.
- A new WCH Equity Council will be initiated in July and will engage an Anti-Racism Working Group to develop an organizational anti-racism and anti-oppression strategy and action plan. The delivery of Anti-Black racism and anti-oppression training across WCH in 2020-2021 and on an ongoing basis will be among the first topics for discussion at that table. This council will be tasked with delivering a presentation to our Board of Directors before the end of the year.
- Despite our data limitations, we are committing to increasing race-based data collection for the purpose of studying the impacts of racism – specifically anti-Black racism – on health and access to care. Processes for implementing data collection will be discussed and prioritized by all members of Senior Leadership over the summer months, with input from experts across our organization and outside it.
- A review of best anti-racism practices in health care organizations will be immediately initiated to support an evidence-informed approach at WCH.
- The WCH Health Research Careers Advisory has committed to engaging, retaining and advancing BIPOC individuals in research and reserving positions for BIPOC students within the Summer Student Research Program.
- Mental health and emotional wellness support will be available. You can find these supports on the WCH Intranet and our Employee and Family Assistance Program is also always available.
Despite our communication limitations during COVID-19, I hope that it we will continue to have the opportunity for frank discussion. No questions are unwelcome. I look forward to hearing more from you.
President & CEO