Our Commitment to Equity

The pursuit of equity is the beacon that guides us each day at Women’s College Hospital (WCH).  

When founded over a 100 years ago, our purpose was to provide access to care for women. Over time we have come to understand our obligations more broadly, including addressing gender inequity across the gender spectrum and the entrenched disparities for racialized people.  

While we have worked hard to create a supportive environment of inclusion, the truth is we have a long way to go in dismantling the structures that contribute to inequity, including anti-Black racism. 

In 2020, WCH leadership communicated our commitment to dismantle the structural anti-Black racism and oppression faced by WCH patients, staff, physicians and community.  

Women’s College Hospital is on a critical path to dismantle racism and oppression and, in particular, to address the distinct needs of Black communities. We are proud of the work we have accomplished and know that there is much more work to complete.  

At WCH, we pride ourselves on being an organization committed to equity and to serving and removing barriers for the communities we serve.  

Contact WCH’s Office of Equity

Canada's Best Diversity Employer Logo 2024

Women’s College Hospital has been named one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers for 2024! This award recognizes organizations with exceptional workplace diversity and inclusion programs, and is testament to our commitment to fostering a workplace that celebrates diversity, equity, and inclusion. This acknowledgment reflects the tremendous impact of our physicians, staff and volunteers in making WCH a vibrant and inclusive workplace. Read More

Our Vision for Equity

Our strategic vision for equity at Women’s College Hospital (WCH) is premised on our fundamental belief that healthcare is a human right.

It is that belief that sustains our commitment to being an organization that reflects the diversity of the communities we serve and to offering the best healthcare options for all.

To that end, the office of Anti-racism, Equity and Social Accountability designs and leads activities and initiatives to integrate anti-racism, equity and social accountability principles and best practice across all aspects of patient care and lines of business at WCH.

The Office provides subject matter expertise on issues of equity, diversity, inclusion, accessibility, and engagement in alignment with the organization’s mission, vision and values of Equity, Quality, People, Courage, and Collaboration.

Learn more

The Office of Equity is mandated to lead organization-wide equity efforts; and mainstream equity, diversity and inclusion best-practice into the structures, systems, policy frameworks, programs, customs and day-to-day practices at Women’s College Hospital; in alignment with the hospital’s Strategic Priorities.

The Office:

    • Draws from research, scholarship and evidence-based best-practice, to provide intellectual leadership in advancing inclusive excellence across all spheres of activity at the hospital

    • Advances, in partnership with relevant stakeholders, Women’s College Hospital’ health equity and well-being agenda to nurture a culture that promotes improved, equitable health outcomes for patients, families and Women’s College Hospital staff

    • Reviews and develops institutional policy frameworks to harness synergies and support inclusive excellence

    • Champions and leads institutional and patient data collection and analysis to identify EDI gaps, implement strategies for enhanced inclusion, inform health equity and improve health outcomes for all relevant Women’s College Hospital stakeholders

    • Implements a robust communications strategy, including developing online web content and learning and reference resource

    • Develops a comprehensive curriculum across various learning platforms to advance capacity around issues of equity

    • Develops a monitoring and evaluation framework to measure and track progress on KPIs to improve immediate and longer-term outcomes

The work of the office to fulfil its mandate is informed by definitions of:

    • Equity as the ideological and resource commitment to the removal of systemic barriers, to produce Equal access to opportunities and outcomes:
        • Observed in Policy and Practice.

    • Diversity as the existence and intersection of difference in demographics, worldviews, knowledges, and experiences:
        • Observed as the recruitment and retention of diverse persons, talents and perspectives.

    • Inclusion as the creation of feelings of connectedness and engagement:                            
        • Observed in environments where all feel respected, uniquely valued and empowered to be their authentic and best selves.

Building on its foundation of equity, Women’s College Hospital (WCH) continues to take meaningful steps to further its work in fostering a culture of equity for our staff, clients, families, volunteers, learners, community partners and all stakeholders.

Through identifying and addressing health gaps and continuing this ongoing work, WCH remains committed to creating a culturally safe environment at all levels of the organization.

This work is guided by the CLEAR strategy

The CLEAR strategy is focused on our:

  1. Culture and belonging and the creation of inclusive, culturally welcoming, barrier-free environments
  2. Learning, Engagement and Accountability frameworks through which to build a strong foundation for action, advocacy and influence across the organization and across the healthcare system; and
  3. Research, Collaboration, and Innovation where we will intentionally produce, document and disseminate community-informed, evidence-based, responsive programs, services and research that advances health equity and health justice.
1. Culture and Belonging1. Access: Patient (and Family) experience and outcomes
2. Accessibility
3. Collaboration
4. Employee Relations: Recruitment, Retention, Engagement and Promotion
5. Employee Relations: Mentorship, Professional Development, Career advancement
2. LearningCapacity building: Sensitization, Awareness, Training and Succession Planning
3. Engagement and OutreachCommunications (BRAVE: Bold, Reading Level, Advances the conversation, Verified, Engaging)
Community partnerships and collaboration
4. AccountabilityCorporate Operations: Policy and Accountability Frameworks
5. Research, Collaboration and InnovationOrganizational Research:
To support inclusive excellence across the hospital and TAHSN
Patient Data to inform equitable experiences and outcomes
Clinical research designed to support health equity

Women’s College Hospital (WCH) is on a critical path to dismantle racism and oppression and, in particular, to address the distinct needs of Black communities. In 2020, WCH leadership communicated our commitment to dismantle the structural anti-Black racism and oppression faced by WCH staff, physicians and patients – within our hospital and beyond.

At WCH, we pride ourselves on being an organization committed to equity and to removing barriers for the communities we serve. To live up to this commitment, we reflected and acknowledged that we need to do better. We knew we needed to act and signal our commitment immediately. In Spring 2020, seven initial corporate commitments were communicated to ensure that leaders in the organization and members of the WCH community were clear on our commitment. We also sought external expertise and prioritized the engagement of an embedded expert. Following this work, in 2021, we further evolved our anti-Black racism corporate commitments.

Our corporate commitments represent our continued focus to dismantle anti-Black racism throughout the organization. The goals of our Anti-Black Racism (ABR) Corporate Commitments include:

  • Improved experience for Black staff, physicians and volunteers
  • Increased opportunity for engagement in decision making
  • Evolved partnerships with Black communities and the organizations that serve them
  • Measuring and working to increase diversity and representation across the organization
  • Measuring What Matters

We are sharing an update on our progress and the work we will continue to do together. The journey to dismantle the structures that perpetuate inequities requires all of us to look inward and critically examine the role we play.

The corporate commitments below are a road map to support our journey:

1.0 Introduction of the sustainable structures and support for WCH stakeholders

1.1  Creation of “Office of Equity”
1.2  Recruitment of Director role and resources to support Equity
1.3  Introduction of WCH Corporate Equity Committee (CEC)
1.4  Introduction of Board Task Force – Anti-Black Racism
1.5  Development of an organizational education plan

2.0 Development of an Anti-Black Racism Plan

2.1  Development of a multi-year plan with multi-level strategies to demonstrate our ongoing commitment to anti-racism and anti-oppression (includes Equity/Health Equity)
2.2  Development of implementation plan to support a sustainable approach applying a lens of transparency, accountability and sustainability
2.3  Develop and Implement an Employment/Practice/Volunteer Equity Program

3.0 Development of a Monitoring & Evaluation Framework

3.1  Develop a demographic based information collection approach inclusive of our patients, staff, volunteers and physicians
3.2  Identify Key Performance Indicators to monitor and evaluate our journey
3.3  Design engagement process to obtain qualitative feedback
– Such as potential sub-committee of CEC – Black Association or Affinity Group
– Engagement survey – annual evolved approach
3.4 Develop and Implement an Organizational Reporting process
– ABR Task Force of the Board
– Communication Plan
– Metrics identified across appropriate organizational scorecards

A high-quality healthcare organization starts with a culture that promotes equity and reduces disparities.

The Women’s College Hospital Equity Roadmap is an essential tool to guide our work to build an organizational culture focused on equity, inclusion, diversity, accessibility, anti-racism and anti-oppression; and to contribute to better outcomes for patients, families and providers within the health system.

Our WCH Equity Roadmap is grounded in the [r]Evolution: Build Back Better Strategy and further aligned with the Ontario Health Equity, Inclusion, Diversity and Anti-Racism Framework, and has been informed by recent literature, evidence-based best practice, theory and frameworks, consultative conversations, in addition to a scan of the current environmental state.

This Equity Roadmap offers a plan for the explicit and deliberate actions that are urgently required to reduce health inequities and create an organizational culture that will contribute to better outcomes for the communities we serve.

It is important for us to know more about the people we care for. It helps us provide you with the best care possible and enables us to improve programs and services for everyone. One way we do this is by collecting information about you through the We Ask Because We Care Survey.

Ontario Health requires all Toronto area hospitals to conduct this survey to help improve access to care. The information you choose to share with us will be treated with respect and used to help us better understand who you are, what your needs are and how we can improve our services.

WCH respects the confidentiality and sensitivity of your personal health information. Your survey responses will be shared with Ontario Health in a summary which means your information is anonymous. Your specific responses will not be identifiable and will not include your name or other personal details. At WCH your responses are stored in your health record and will be viewable by your care team to better help serve you. By participating in the survey, you are helping us advance health equity and improve care for everyone.

For patients of the main hospital (76 Grenville St) the survey can be accessed directly through your myHealthRecord account or at one of WCH’s check-in kiosks:

Patients at WCH Family Practice who are over the age of 18 and have consented to email updates will receive an email from the hospital requesting their participation in the survey. If you have not received the email, please contact your family practice care team and they will assist you.

If you have questions or concerns regarding the We Ask Because We Care Survey, please contact WCH’s Office of Equity: equity@wchospital.ca

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Answering the Survey

It will take six to eight minutes to complete the survey.

No. You can choose to answer these questions or not. You can stop answering the questions at any time or ask us to remove your answers at any time. For each question, select the response that best suits you. If you are not comfortable answering a question, please choose the ‘prefer not to answer’ response.

If you do not wish to provide a response for one of the questions, please select ‘prefer not to answer’ so we know that you did not want to answer it. This distinction is important so we can see what questions patients do not like or feel comfortable responding to.

Completing the survey is not mandatory, it is optional. Your decision about whether to complete the survey will not affect the care, services, and supports you currently receive at WCH.

Responses to the survey are not shared with other Toronto hospitals and as a result, we do not know whether you have completed the survey before. We would very much appreciate if you could complete the survey again, so we are able to better understand the patients we are serving at WCH.

If you select ‘No’ to completing the survey, but change your mind, you can register or log into your myHealthRecord to access the survey again. Once you login to your account, click the ‘Menu’ button in the top left, from the drop-down, select ‘Questionnaires’ which is where you can access the We Ask Because We Care Survey. It is located under the Optional Questionnaires section.

Privacy and Data

Yes, the Ontario Human Rights Commission strongly encourages organizations to collect and use demographic information to keep track of outcomes to promote equity. The provincial government, through Ontario Health requires all Toronto hospitals to offer this survey. As part of their local obligations, hospitals are required to collect health equity data to improve routine operational planning and service delivery.

WCH respects the confidentiality and sensitivity of our patients’ personal health information. Survey responses will be shared with Ontario Health in a summary combined with many other patients. Your specific responses will not be identifiable and will not include your name or other personal details when shared with Ontario Health.

Your responses will be viewable by your care team and your responses will be incorporated into your health record. Your health record is handled in accordance with Ontario’s health privacy law called the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA). Click here to learn more about how your personal health information is collected, used, and disclosed at WCH.

Unfortunately, no. Your responses to this survey will be stored in your health record.

Ontario Health is a provincial agency created by the Government of Ontario to connect, coordinate, and modernize our province’s healthcare system. They collaborate with partners, providers, and patients to make the health system more efficient so everyone in Ontario has an opportunity for better health and wellbeing. One of their primary activities include measuring and reporting data at a provincial level to determine how the health system is performing.

Enhancing Care

WCH is committed to reducing health inequities and providing care for everyone. Factors like a person’s ethnicity, race, gender, income, and sexual orientation can impact their access to healthcare and their health. We understand that some questions may feel very personal or private; but by gathering this information we will be better able to reduce inequities in care and improve the services we offer at WCH.

We will study the results to better understand how factors like language, gender, income, race, and others are linked to health outcomes. These learnings will allow us to develop new programs and improve our services and staff training. This will enhance care for all WCH patients.

Your care team, who will have access to your specific information, may refer you to certain services, provide you with information or identify unique needs you have. For example, interpretation services to receive care in your preferred language or an accommodation for a disability.

When important work like this happens, change may feel slow, but we want to make sure that we are analyzing the data correctly and making the right changes. If you would like to play a more active role in improving care by sharing your insights on our programs and services, we encourage you to learn more about our Experience Advisor Program and consider getting involved.

The We Ask Because We Care Survey is separate from WCH’s Patient Experience Survey. This survey is linked to your health record, meanwhile the Patient Experience Survey is anonymous and linked to the department/service you received. It provides us with focused feedback on how your visit went.

Health Equity

WCH, in partnership with the Centre for Wise Practices in Indigenous Health (CWP-IH), is committed to delivering high-quality, culturally appropriate, and trauma-informed care for Indigenous peoples. WCH recognizes and respects the right of Indigenous peoples to self-govern and regulate their own data, including the right to own, control, access and possess Indigenous data and information.

Please note that if you choose to disclose your Indigenous identify, your response is viewable by your care team and stored in your health record. If you do not wish for your care team to know, please select ‘prefer not to answer’.

Taking part in this survey will have no impact on your immigration status. We want to make sure that no matter where you come from, or what your immigration status is, you get the best care possible. Additionally, we do not share your individual responses with external organizations.

Knowledge about income will help us inform you about services you may be eligible for and provide support for any unique needs you may have.

Research shows that income influences health. For example, someone’s income can affect where they live or what groceries they can purchase. Overtime the impact of these factors, among others, affect peoples’ health and can affect the level of care they receive. We want to reduce barriers to quality healthcare and ensure everyone receives the same level of care regardless of their income.

We know that many communities have, and continue to, experience systemic discrimination, inequality, and racism within the healthcare sector. Concerns about your information and how it will be used are important and reflect your experiences. This is also why we are collecting this information. It will allow us to better identify gaps in care, address how systemic barriers are impacting the health of our patients and allow us to improve access to health services. If you have a complaint or concern about your care at WCH, we encourage you to contact our Patient Relations Office at patientrelations@wchospital.ca

We respect the confidentiality and sensitivity of your personal health information. Additionally, your personal information is protected through privacy legislation, specifically the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004. Click here to learn more about how your personal health information is collected, used, and disclosed at WCH.

Additional Information and resources: