How North York General Champions Equity in Health Care

June 2, 2023

North York General prioritizes equity, diversity, and inclusion across health care services, fostering a diverse and inclusive environment for all.

North York General Hospital (NYGH) serves a highly diverse population of approximately 500,000. Sixty per cent of local residents were born outside of Canada and nearly 60 per cent identify as non-white. Our workforce is also wonderfully diverse.

When we developed our Strategic Plan (2020-2025), Thinking Beyond, in 2019, NYGH understood that equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) needed to be at the centre of everything.

“Our goal is to bake EDI into all that we do — how we design clinical services, our infrastructure, the recruitment of staff and volunteers, and our staff education programs,” says Karyn Popovich, President and CEO of NYGH.

We took key foundational steps, including having focused leadership with the creation of an Office of EDI and hiring Janelle Benjamin as the Manager of EDI. Benjamin brings an invaluable background as a trained lawyer and policy expert supporting the Accessibility Directorate and Fairness Commissioner for Ontario, along with experience helping corporations transform their systems and cultures.

Creating supportive policies and practices 

In 2022, NYGH launched its Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Framework reflecting the best evidence and experiences in Canada and beyond.

Early on, we formed Employee Resource Groups who steer and support NYGH’s actions to address Anti-Black Racism (ABR) and to promote 2SLGBTQ1A+ inclusion, and we’re also creating a Diversity Council.

“When we go to work or people come through our doors, we don’t leave our identities outside the building,” says Benjamin. “We have to consider policies and practices that support people from different communities, including those who are historically marginalized in society.”

Our education program covers wide-ranging topics including mandatory training in collaboration with the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion and other partners. 

Data is essential to ensure we make the right changes and that they stick. This year, we initiated our first internal ABR Experience and demographic surveys and included EDI measures in our Staff Engagement Survey. We’ve also begun to enhance how we track and use patient data to guide health care design and delivery. 

Fostering an environment where every person feels safe, valued, and able to be themselves is a long-term, enterprise-wide commitment. We look forward to working with our team, communities, patients, and partners to continue our EDI journey.