June 2, 2020
The following message was shared with staff and physicians at London Health Sciences Centre earlier today:
I am frustrated. I am horrified. And I am heartbroken.
Along with many of you, I have watched the events of the past week unfold in the United States, events which are compounding an already challenging time. I want to acknowledge firmly and explicitly that while the issue of anti-Black racism is at the forefront in the US, we cannot ignore that this reality exists here in Canada, and right in our own community.
Systemic racism is pervasive. Violence and discrimination against Black, Indigenous, and racialized peoples is embedded in all aspects of our Canadian society which unfortunately includes the health-care system. I recognize that racism and intolerance exists within LHSC, and that our staff, physicians, volunteers, and patients are impacted by it. We have work to do and I am committed to ensuring our organization follows through on its obligation to address inequitable access to health care.
Health equity is created when individuals have the fair opportunity to reach their fullest health potential. Our current Strategic Plan includes this as a key accountability and we have been working to lay the foundation that will help us achieve true health equity for our patients, and an inclusive workplace that is representative of the diversity in our community. This work is not done, but its importance has been highlighted by the recent events in the media.
Over the next several months, we will begin active measurement of our diversity, attitudes, and opinions about the inclusiveness of our environment. This will ignite what I expect will be an ongoing dialogue that I encourage all of our people to participate in, as we work to develop and strengthen LHSC’s health equity and inclusion strategies.
In the meantime, addressing the issue of racial inequality is on all of us. It is our collective accountability not just to identify as anti-racist, but to do the work. Demonstrating through our words, actions, and behaviours, that we will not tolerate acts of racism in our community is the only way to effect positive, real change. Please take a moment to think about your own position, what privilege you may have, and ways that you can make a difference. I am hopeful that together as a community, this issue will continue to be acknowledged as change will not happen alone.
For our staff, physicians, patients, and families who are experiencing racism: we are working to do better. We need to do better, and we will do better. Racism is morally wrong, illegal in Canada, and it does not align with our values. Racism has no place at LHSC and I am taking this opportunity to draw a line in the sand that our organization will not stand for discrimination, intolerance, or violence, at our hospital nor in our community.
I am deeply saddened that it has taken the death of yet another human life to move our collective conversation to a level that I hope may bring us closer to a more peaceful, equitable society.
The flags at LHSC will be lowered to half-mast for the remainder of this week to acknowledge George Floyd, just one of the many victims whose lives have been lost or irrevocably altered by systemic racism.
As always, I encourage you to reach out to me at contactCEO@lhsc.on.ca.
Dr. Paul Woods
President and CEO
London Health Sciences Centre