Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Statement, Dept of Surgery

Jun 4, 2020
Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Statement, Dept of Surgery

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