Pride Month 2023: A message from the President and CEO of Unity Health Toronto
Today, Unity Health Toronto raised the Progress Pride flag outside the main entrances of our three sites, where they will wave proudly for the month of June. As a Catholic organization, human dignity and inclusivity for all people are a part of our core values and we aim to be a place where everyone belongs, is welcomed and is celebrated.
Our shared values, rooted in the Catholic tradition, also affirm our commitment to social justice, where we are in service to and advocate for those people who are particularly vulnerable to discrimination. You can see this in our history, from the important role St. Michael’s played after the HIV/AIDS crisis as a center for HIV/AIDS care and its affiliation with Casey House hospice, right up to today, as researchers, staff and clinical programs across our network care for and work to provide equitable access to care for members of our community who identify as 2SLGBTQ+.
Yet, we must acknowledge that at our sites and healthcare organizations across Canada, institutional marginalization against 2SLGBTQ+ people is ongoing. People don’t seek care if they don’t feel safe and welcome, and this barrier impacts health outcomes. Studies show transgender people are less likely to be screened for cancer, for example, and LGBT youth are disproportionately at risk for cancers, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, anxiety, depression, and suicide compared to the general population.
We have work to do in further supporting safe environments for 2SLGBTQ+ patients and their loved ones, staff, physicians, learners, volunteers, residents and visitors.
The following is a list of actions completed since 2022 to make Unity Health a more welcoming space:
- We established a 2SLGBTQ+ or Gender and Sexual Diversity Affinity Group, also known as a community of inclusion or employee resource group, to create affirming and safer spaces for 2SLGBTQ+ staff, physicians, midwives and learners to share their experiences, lean into collective wisdom for empowerment, and mobilize and advise on strategic change.
- We increased the number of gender-inclusive bathrooms and updated signage across our sites.
- We developed and distributed pronoun pins and guidance on using pronouns.
- We delivered training on gender and sexual diversity to several teams across Unity Health.
- We expanded the amount of staff benefits coverage for gender affirming care.
We are also committing to other actions to create a more inclusive and equitable culture for 2SLGBTQ+ people in the year ahead:
- Develop internally offered education that supports inclusive and gender affirming care experiences.
- Scope and develop a policy that supports trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming staff, physicians, learners and volunteers in the workplace and learning environment.
To celebrate Pride Month this year, Unity Health will continue a new tradition of hosting a hospitality booth on the parade weekend. We’ll also be sharing Behind the Mask profiles on the experiences of 2SLGBTQ+ staff and allies within our network. Please stay tuned to our social media channels.
Together, we can improve the health outcomes of all of the communities we serve. I hope everyone can take a moment this month to celebrate, reflect, and contribute to this ongoing priority for Unity Health. In the meantime, I’m wishing all of you a happy Pride.
President and CEO
Unity Health Toronto