Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Under the leadership of McLaughlin Chair Dr. James Rutka, the Department of Surgery reaffirmed its commitment to an equitable, diverse, and inclusive environment for learners and faculty in the spring of 2020.

About Us

Get to know more about our mission, goals, directors, and the taskforce.


Learn about UpSurge, our mentorship program to guide underrepresented students in pursuing surgical careers.


Find out how you can become an active ally in achieving equity, diversity, and inclusion.


Ask us about resources, training, webinars, and conduct concerns


Our vision, mission, and areas for intervention

Drs. Laura Snell and Najib Safieddine, the inaugural Co-Directors of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, will oversee department-wide implementation of strategic goals in alignment with those of the Faculty of Medicine’s Office of Inclusion and Diversity.

You can read the first official statement here:

Dear Colleagues,

As your new Co-Directors for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Department of Surgery at the University of Toronto, we find ourselves initiating communication with you at the intersection of Pride month and tragic issues of discrimination. These unprecedented times remind us what reality is like for many in our city and country. It also reminds us of the importance of reaching out to our Department members to provide ongoing support and stand in solidarity with our community.

We begin by addressing the heightened racism towards people of Asian heritage invoked by COVID-19. Polls conducted by the provincial human rights commission and the Chinese Canadian National Council of Social Justice (CCNC-SJ) report that up to 21% of Canadians hold incorrect and prejudiced assumptions regarding virus transmission and Asian ethnicity. As medical professionals, our commitment to the provision of equitable healthcare means that we must actively condemn these xenophobic behaviours by countering the narrative of misinformation.

Our new Ontario Medical Association President, Dr. Samantha Hill, circulated a poignant letter on Tuesday speaking to Pride month and acceptance in sexual and gendered minorities (SGM). While Pride month will look different this year, Dr. Hill encourages us to amplify equity and support our friends, family, patients, and colleagues identifying as SGM. In the absence of citywide parades, we must still take this time to educate ourselves, our families and communities about the values of equity and inclusion.

Finally, we would be remiss not to express our stand against the ongoing acts of racial discrimination among the Black and Indigenous communities here in Canada, the United States, and globally. We are wholly committed to promoting a Department of Surgery with a zero-tolerance policy for racial injustice. We are aligned with the Faculty of Medicine’s Office of Inclusion & Diversity’s Statement of Solidarity and the OMA’s anti-racism statement through which we pledge to recognize the acts of resistance and collective pain of our Black and Indigenous community members. We plan to thoughtfully address infrastructural and systemic barriers in order to inform our Departmental EDI Action Plan this summer. We hope you will join us, as medical and community leaders, in taking action and seeking solutions through a systemic approach. We invite you to contact us with ideas and feedback.

We also encourage you to explore the Faculty of Medicine’s upcoming anti-racism discussions beginning this week, as well as the Anti-Racism and Cultural Diversity Office webpage.

It is unfathomable that we delay any longer the dismantling of these injustices. Together we can build a surgical department where diversity, equity, and inclusion shape its culture, inform its academic mission, and inspire its members. We must come together in solidarity not just as healthcare professionals, but as advocates and allies.


Dr. Laura Snell and Dr. Najib Safieddine
Co-Directors | Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Department of Surgery, University of Toronto

Ms. Joanna Giddens
Taskforce Lead | Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Department of Surgery, University of Toronto

Defining Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

The Department of Surgery believes that its commitment to academic excellence and the provision of high-quality patient care are interwoven in its commitment to an equitable, diverse, and inclusive environment.

Equity: Commitment to actively challenging and responding to any and all forms of bias, discrimination, and unfairness through policies that provide equitable access to opportunity for all persons.

Diversity: Commitment to increasing the expression of diversity in its multitude of forms which may include race and ethnicity, gender and gender identity, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, spoken languages, socioeconomic status, (dis)ability status, political affiliation, nationality, and culture.

Inclusion: Commitment to ensuring a sense of belonging through the respectful welcoming, engagement, and leverage of different perspectives.