Women’s College Hospital is a world leader in health for women, health equity and health system solutions – a hospital designed to keep people out of hospital. As an academic organization, fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, we know that research and innovation are critical components towards advancing our mission of creating a healthier more equitable world.
As a result, both research institutes – Women’s College Research Institute (WCRI) and WCH Institute for Health System Solutions and Virtual Care (WIHV) – advance scientific insights related to health equity and health system solutions.
Both WCRI and WIHV endorse the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s Dimensions Charter, aiming to increase research excellence, innovation and creativity across all scientific disciplines, through greater equity, diversity and inclusion.
A multidisciplinary research institute, WCRI is one of only a few hospital-based research institutes worldwide to focus on health equity. Our scientists, all of whom have academic appointments at the University of Toronto, conduct research that improves the health of women, helps people prevent and manage complex chronic conditions, and delivers innovative health system solutions.
Our vision is to lead innovative, high impact health research that changes practice, changes policy, and changes lives.
Our scientists are expanding and exporting knowledge about health conditions that have unique implications for women and others throughout their lives – like arthritis, depression, diabetes and heart disease. They are investigating the complexities of these conditions – because rarely does one person experience only one disease or take only one medication. They are exploring the social, political and economic forces that influence health and access to healthcare. They are working to reinvent healthcare for women and pursue equity for all.
WIHV is a living laboratory for health system solutions in Ontario and beyond. Whether it’s evaluating an app that allows patients with chronic kidney disease to order supplies and manage dialysis at home or using big data to improve medication safety for vulnerable communities, WIHV is responding to today’s most pressing health issues through research insights and solutions.
Working with stakeholders inside the health system and innovators from the private sector, WIHV identifies the ground-breaking approaches that address gaps in our healthcare system. Our work supports solutions that make care more convenient, more effective, and less costly to deliver.
Our areas of work include:
- Women’s College Hospital (WCH) clinical evaluation
- Virtual care & digital health evaluation
- Health system & policy innovation
- Implementation science
History of Research at WCH
Women’s College Hospital has always been a health innovator. From the development of the first Pap tests to screen for cervical cancer in the late 1940s to the opening of the first Sexual Assault Care Centre in Ontario in 1984, Women’s College Hospital has contributed to our knowledge of women’s health and healthcare.
In 1995, Women’s College Hospital demonstrated its commitment to women’s health research by partnering with the University of Toronto to form the Centre for Research in Women’s Health (CRWH). CRWH recruited additional research faculty to the hospital and helped build many of the research programs that are part of Women’s College Research Institute today. It also established funding for a number of academic chairs, drawing a core of pre-eminent leaders to our research programs.
The CRWH led Women’s College Hospital to become a more active part of the University of Toronto research community. The CRWH became a catalyst for women’s health research at the university, helping to bring researchers and students from different departments together to share their insights and to find new research partners.
On April 1, 2006, Women’s College Hospital once again became an independently governed hospital after nine years as part of Sunnybrook and Women’s College Health Sciences Centre. This new hospital offers new possibilities to support the development of research capacity at Women’s College Hospital through a dedicated research institute.
Women’s College Research Institute formally launched in October 2006 bringing academic and clinical researchers together to conduct research to focused on health equity. Women’s College Research Institute conducts research that improves the health of women, helps people prevent and manage complex chronic conditions, and delivers innovative health system solutions.
In 2013, the Women’s College Hospital Institute for Health System Solutions and Virtual Care (WIHV) launched as a living laboratory for health system solutions in Ontario and beyond.
Whether it’s evaluating an app that allows patients with chronic kidney disease to order supplies and manage dialysis at home or using big data to improve medication safety for vulnerable communities, WIHV is responding to today’s most pressing health issues through research insights and solutions.
In 2021, WCH introduced a bold new strategy creating a new integrated Academics Department comprised of research, innovation and education. Under this newly formed portfolio teams within Academics are working to implement a learning health system across the organization.
Academic chairs are endowments that give their recipients resources to develop their research interests and to mentor others in the field. Several of Women’s College Research Institute’s leading scientists hold such chairs. This is a way for Women’s College Research Institute and hospital donors to support outstanding scholarship and leadership. The development of academic chairs is an important part of our strategy to build women’s health research capacity and increase women’s health knowledge.
The following academic chairs are held by Women’s College Research Institute scientists:
- Atkinson Chair in Women’s Health Research (currently vacant)
- Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in Breast Cancer
- Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer
- Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (Ontario Chapter), Chair in Breast Cancer Research
- Evelyn Bateman Cara Operations Chair in Ambulatory Anesthesia and Women’s Health
- F.M. Hill Chair in Academic Women’s Medicine
- F.M. Hill Chair in Health System Solutions
- Frigon Blau Chair in Family Medicine Research
- Heart & Stroke Women’s Heart and Brain Health Chair
- Phelan Scientist in Dermatology
- Retired Teachers of Ontario Chair in Geriatric Medicine
- Shirley Brown Chair in Women’s Mental Health Research
- Sir John and Lady Eaton Professor and Chair of Medicine
The University of Toronto’s (UofT) Canada Research Chair (CRC) program is administered by the University, in partnership with nine affiliated hospitals in the Toronto Academic Health Sciences Network (TASHN).
This CRC Equity page complements the information provided on the UofT’s website and provides information specific to Women’s College Hospital (WCH), including postings for available Canada Research Chair opportunities at this hospital. Details include policies and initiatives designed to increase the diversity of faculty holding CRCs at WCH.
Since 2017, the CRC program has provided equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) public accountability and transparency requirements for institutions participating in the CRC program. These include the institutional requirement to develop a plan to guide efforts for sustaining the participation of and/or addressing the underrepresentation of individuals within federally-designated groups.
Recent changes to the CRC program have been addressed in the 2019 Addendum to the 2006 Canadian Human Rights Settlement Agreement. According to this addendum, the current CRC target will be updated with new goals set to be achieved by 2029. These include the need to increase institutional targets for representation of women, visible minorities, persons with disabilities, and Indigenous peoples, with the goal of reflecting representation of the general Canadian population.
The CRC program currently has a target of 32% of chair holders identifying as women. The target figure for 2029 will be 50.9%. Other revised targets are as follows: visible minorities (22%); persons with disabilities (7.5%); and Indigenous peoples (4.9%). While not part of the federally-designated “underrepresented” groups, the CRC program is also encouraging representation of chair holders from LGBTQ+ communities.
Additional details about the CRC program including filled CRC positions and current equity targets of participating institutions can be found on its Program Statistics page.
For a century, WCH has had an abiding commitment to equity and inclusion. WCH was the first place in Canada where women could study medicine and the first hospital in the country where they could practice medicine. Building on this commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) has been central to our success. We know that inclusive workplace and communities result in innovation, quality and responsive services. As we advance our vision to revolutionize healthcare for a healthier and more equitable world, WCH will ensure a focused and modernized action plan to advance EDI across the entire organization. For more details on this subject, see Section 4 of this document: Action Plan Priorities at WCH.
WCH has been recognized with many awards for its prioritizing of diversity, including the Diversity in Governance Award by Diverse City on Board (a joint initiative of Maytree Foundation and the Toronto City Summit Alliance). WCH is also a member of Pride at Work Canada, which empowers employers to foster workplace cultures that recognize LGBTQ employees as an important part of a diverse and effective workforce.
WCH regularly engages in an Employee Engagement Survey, which collects information to help identify demographic characteristics of our staff, physicians, and researchers. This information provides the groundwork to develop and improve specific programs, policies and practices that support all members of the WCH community. Survey results are anonymized and reviewable by department.
All Employee Engagement Survey information relating to equity, diversity, and inclusion at WCH is under the exclusive care of the WCH Human Resources Department, who are committed to ensuring that all employee Human Resources files are maintained and stored in a secured confidential area to which only Human Resources staff have access. Access to the employee’s file will be permitted only by Human Resources staff as required for the legitimate performance of hospital business and as per the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
Human Resources policies that govern the search for, recruitment, and retention of CRCs at WCH include the following: “Code of Conduct”, “Creating an Inclusive Environment”, “Recruitment and Selection Process”, “Employment of Relatives”, and “Harassment and Discrimination”. Relevant excerpts from these have been posted below with links to the full policy PDFs.
3.10.003 – Code of Conduct
Women’s College Hospital is committed to a climate of mutual respect and a work environment that is free from discrimination and harassment. Our Code of Conduct describes the fundamental principles of ethical conduct, integrity and professionalism that WCH is built upon. Staff, physicians, volunteers, students, research staff, board members, contract workers and all associated with the Hospital are expected to uphold the Mission, Vision and Values of WCH by committing to, demonstrating and promoting the behaviours listed in the Code of Conduct.
3.10.0038 – Creating an Inclusive Environment
WCH supports a barrier-free environment that respects individual dignity and legislative requirements. At WCH it is our policy and practice that no employee will be denied access to employment opportunities for reasons related to race, ethnic origin, place of origin, religion or creed, language, gender, sexual orientation, age, physical and mental abilities, socio-economic, marital and employment status. All WCH employees with the required skills and ability will have access to the fullest opportunities to develop individual potential. During employment, it is the commitment of WCH that differences between people must be respected and accommodated in accordance with human rights legislation. Finally, WCH will promote a climate favourable to the successful integration of all groups protected under human rights legislation, and in particular those which traditionally have been under-represented including women, persons with disabilities, aboriginal peoples, visible minorities, and members identified within the LGBTQ community.
3.20.001 – Recruitment and Selection Process
WCH is committed to identifying, attracting and retaining the best candidates suited for the job and the organization, to ensure our success. We offer advancement opportunities to our employees following a fair and equitable process. This enables us to create an academic centre of excellence that, in partnership with its communities, ensures a full range of high-quality, values-based, patient-centered ambulatory care services, and that is a leader in women’s health.
All job postings are accompanied by the following statement:
Women’s College Hospital is a fully affiliated teaching hospital of the University of Toronto and is committed to fairness and equity in employment and our recruitment and selection practices. We encourage applications from Indigenous peoples, people with disabilities, members of sexual minority groups, members of racialized groups, women and any others who may contribute to the further diversification of our Hospital community. Accommodation will be provided in all parts of the hiring process as required under our Access for People with Disabilities policy. Applicants need to make their requirements known in advance.
3.20.002 – Employment of Relatives
It is the policy of WCH to promote open and fair recruitment practices. The intent of this policy is to ensure fair and equitable treatment of all employees and volunteers by eliminating the potential conflict of interest, perception of favourable interest or any other potential fraud etc. The recruitment of members of an immediate family or individuals in a relationship e.g. listed below, within the same work unit is prohibited. An employee or volunteer will not be placed in the same work unit with another member of his or her immediate family or under supervision of individuals with whom the employee or volunteer has a personal relationship.
3.20.007 – Harassment and Discrimination
It is WCH policy to adhere to the principles and practices set out in the Human Rights Code. The Human Rights Code provides that every individual has the right to equal treatment with respect to employment without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed (religion), sex, sexual orientation, age, record of offences, marital status, family status or handicap. The Human Rights Code also prohibits any form of harassment in the workplace. In keeping with our Mission, Vision, and Values, WCH is committed to providing a work environment that is free from discrimination, systemic discrimination, and harassment and where the dignity and worth of every individual is respected.
WCH agrees with the spirit and the objectives of UofT’s EDI Action Plan, and where relevant, shall pursue goals in relation to its CRC mandate. The intent is to both increase the number of Canada Research Chairs (CRC) from the federally designated groups, and to develop procedures and initiatives that enable the university community to work towards our shared responsibility to create an inclusive and equitable environment to conduct world-class research.
Priorities inspired by this Action Plan include:
- Ensuring all staff involved with a CRC nomination complete unconscious bias training.
- Completing a review of WCH administrative processes for CRCs.
- Encouraging CRC applicants and nominees to complete WCH’s Employee Engagement
- Survey and the CRC survey.
- Developing Strategies to recruit and support racialized persons/persons of colour to CRCs.
- Developing strategies to recruit and support Indigenous CRCs.
WCH will also be developing its own internal institutional EDI in Academics Action Plan in the future that will ensure a robust EDI culture across WCH.
Canada Research Chairs (CRC) can be held by both core full-time researchers and clinician-scientists as well as adjunct faculty at WCH, in conjunction with allocations through the University of Toronto (UofT).
All CRC positions must be filled using the outlined CRC Requirements for Recruiting and Nominating.
Oversight of the CRC program at WCH resides in the portfolio of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation, UofT, in conjunction with the Vice-President, Research, WCH. Distribution of Chairs (by Tier and Council) is informed by a formula similar to that used by the CRC program (three-year rolling average of tri-council research funding). Strategic considerations, including faculty complement planning to advance key areas of research, are also taken into consideration. Divisions are encouraged to recognize units that are excelling in efforts to increase diversity in their faculty and Chairholders.
WCH’s CRC positions are filled through internal nominations, or are tied to the recruitment of hospital-based appointments. The successful candidate from these searches is nominated for a Canada Research Chair, normally after beginning their employment at WCH.
According to the Accommodation Policy: At WCH it is our policy and practice that no applicant (both internal and external) will be denied access to employment opportunities for reasons unrelated to ability and all will have access to the fullest opportunities to develop individual potential. During the recruitment process, it is the commitment of WCH that differences between people must be respected and accommodated in accordance with human rights legislation. Questions or concerns relating to accommodation may be directed to email@example.com.
Current CRC Opportunities at WCH:
|Chair Allocations||Number of Chair Allocations||Filled vs. Available||Term (start-end date)|
|Tier 1||1||1/1||Narod, Steven: March 1, 2017 – February 28, 2024|
|Tier 2||3||2/3||Kotsopoulos, Joanne: April 1, 2017 – March 31, 2022
Ivers, Noah: October 1, 2019 – September 30, 2024
Eder, Lihi – June 1, 2021 – May 31, 2026
Open Chair: TBD
*No flex moves have been used in any chair allocation to date at WCH.
There are a number of mechanisms at WCH to address concerns related to equity and diversity depending on the issue.
- Concerns related to research and innovation: Rulan Parekh, Vice-President, Academic: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Concerns related to equity and diversity in employment at WCH: Sandra Smith, Vice President People, Culture, and Equity & Chief Human Resources Officer: email@example.com
- Concerns regarding administration of CRC opportunities can be directed to Nicole Do, Grants Development Specialist, firstname.lastname@example.org
Content will be made available once the institutional EDI Action Plan has been established.
Women’s College Research Institute has an interdisciplinary faculty of scientists, most of whom are also active clinicians at Women’s College Hospital. Our faculty are cross-appointed at the University of Toronto and we are an active part of our University community. We are committed to creating health knowledge benefiting women across the lifespan.
The Women’s College Research Institute has three key areas of research focus:
- improving women’s health
- helping people prevent and manage complex chronic conditions
- delivering innovative health system solutions
Our research agenda and actions are shaped by our guiding principles:
Research conducted with scientific rigour
Research that is conducted with partners across Toronto, Canada, and the world
Research that responds to diverse women’s health concerns
Research that meets the highest ethical standard
Research that responds to gaps in health care
Research that is shared in a timely and meaningful way
Research with a global perspective that values social justice
Dr Rulan Parekh is the Vice President, Academics at Women’s College Hospital.
Katharine Schwartz, Director, Research Operations, oversees research services.