Diversity Training in Toronto Public Health: Process, Challenges and Key Learnings

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Toronto, the 5th largest city in North America, is both diverse and in flux. The United Nations has recognized Toronto as one of the world’s most ethnically diverse cities. Toronto has the highest proportion of newcomers to population of any Canadian city. 43% of all Torontonians are immigrants according to the 2006 Census. Since 1996, significant shifts have occurred in Toronto’s age demographics: most notably, there are fewer children 0-4 years, more pre-retirement adults 55-64 years and more seniors over 80. Toronto is home to North America’s third largest LGBT community. In addition, the income gap has widened, neighborhood poverty has intensified, and many Toronto families now live in poverty. Toronto Public Health (TPH) is the largest health unit in Canada, with over 1800 staff from varied backgrounds and professions. The challenges of TPH are: to create an inclusive workplace and to enable a diverse workforce to meet the needs of even more diverse communities. Through funding from Canadian Heritage Canada, TPH developed its own public health practice framework and inclusive program planning tools, policies to ensure that programs and services are equitable and accessible, an internal workplace communications campaign and a diversity curriculum for staff training. But the challenges haven’t stopped there: as they say, “The training is just the beginning!”. This workshop will examine organizational readiness for change, what needs to be in place to begin effective training, and the need for organizational leadership, reflection, and responsiveness to issues that are identified as the training rolls out.


Keywords: Diversity Training, Organizational Change
Stream: Organisations
Presentation Type: Colloquium in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Winnie Falkenstein

Health Promotion Consultant, Professional Practice
Planning and Policy, Toronto Public Health

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Winnie Falkenstein is a Health Promotion Consultant at Toronto Public Health where she is currently coordinating and monitoring the implementation of mandatory diversity, access and equity training for all staff. She is also an executive member of the Board of Directors at the Urban Alliance on Race Relations in Toronto. She admits to an addiction to travel, culture, and meeting people outside of resort destinations.

Janis Grierson

Promoter of Sexual Health, Healthy Living, Toronto Public Health
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Janis has worked at Toronto Public Health (TPH) as a public health nurse and a promoter of sexual health. She was one of the team that developed the diversity curriculum for TPH and is a diversity peer trainer.

Catherine Turl

Research Consultant, Urban Issues
Planning and Policy, Toronto Public Health

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Catherine has worked in Toronto Public Health as a public health nurse, education consultant, clinical nurse consultant and research consultant. Her background is in urban health issues, homelessness, and community capacity building. She helped develop the diversity training curriculum and is currently a diversity peer trainer.

Ref: D08P0406