Health Equity Certificate Program

How the Program Works

Scarborough Health Network (SHN) is proud to offer the Health Equity Certificate Program, which has been designed to empower those involved in delivering health care to take a full-spectrum view of health, and to develop strategies to reduce health disparities through your work. Upon completion of this certificate program, participants will have a strong understanding of the impact of social determinants of health, and how to address them. In other words, the course helps us better meet the needs of our most vulnerable patients. 

In September 2022, we launched the third cohort of our Health Equity Certificate Program. This program aligns with SHN’s strategic direction to improve population health, health equity and system integration and aligns to the provincial direction of improving patient experience and improved health. We are looking to build capacity and work together with our community to achieve this goal.

We look forward to opening the registration portal for applications to be a part of our fourth cohort in the spring/summer of 2023.

Please note: The Health Equity Certificate Program is a “self-approved activity” (section 1) as defined by the Maintenance of Certification Program of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeon of Canada, and an application has been made to the College of Family Physicians of Canada for up to 12.5 Mainpro+ credits. 

How the Program Works

Based on current pandemic restrictions, all sessions will be held virtually via Zoom. This is a one-year program with 2 streams:

Option 1: Core Stream

The Core stream will include eight sessions that are 1.5 hours in length, and will be held on the second Wednesday of each month from 12:00 – 1:30p.m., except for the first session which will be 2 hours on Wednesday, September 14 from 12:00 – 2:00p.m.  These sessions will be led by multiple subject matter experts, including healthcare providers, community advocates, and local champions. Participants will also be asked to submit two reflections at the end of the program. Time commitment: 15 hours total.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Have a strong appreciation of the impact of social determinants of health and how to address them;
  2. Be able to understand health equity principles and apply them to everyday practice to reduce barriers and improve access.

Course requirements to receive a Certificate of Completion: 

  • Attend at least 6 out of 8 sessions
  • Submit 2 reflections at the end of the program

Option 2: Advanced Stream (optional add-on)

Join the Advanced stream and embark on a journey of quality improvement (QI)!

We invite you to join the advanced program where we will learn how to apply principles of health equity to make improvements in our own health care environments.

Participants will engage in a mix of small group, didactic and self-learning in parallel with the Core stream health equity course. This will include monthly 1-hour sessions, on the second Friday of every month between 12:30 to 1:30 pm, where our local quality improvement and patient safety experts will guide you through the basics of QI. Students will be encouraged to identify a health problem in their community and proceed with a QI project which can be accomplished individually or in groups. Each student will be assigned a QI mentor to help guide them through this process.

Participation will be limited to 20 participants. Additional time commitment (beyond the CORE session): 25 hours

Learning objectives:

  1. Understand and apply the basic principles of QI
  2. Be able to clearly identify a QI problem, craft an AIM statement, and plan change ideas
  3. Learn in practice the importance of collaboration and teamwork to QI
  4. Complete an equity-focused QI project (individually or as a group)

Course requirements to receive a Certificate of Excellence: 

  • Complete the requirements of the Core Stream
  • Attend at least 6 out of 8 sessions QI Foundational sessions
  • Develop an equity-focused QI project and complete all project deliverables 
  • Give a final presentation of your QI journey and project

Who should apply?

This program is open to all individuals and teams interested in expanding their knowledge of health equity, and enhancing their ability to reduce disparities and promote health in our community. The program accepts applicants across all disciplines and sectors delivering care to the Scarborough community.

We look forward to opening the registration portal for applications to be a part of our fourth cohort in the spring/summer of 2023.

Why is SHN invested?

We support this program because it provides health care providers with tools and builds capacity for comprehensive care within our community, and strengthens our collective ability to provide more equitable heath care when and where it is needed. 

Celebrating our Inaugural Cohort and Cohort 2

SHN’s first and second cohorts of the Health Equity Certificate Program produced spectacular graduates and were a resounding success! From the program’s inaugural year in 2019 and onwards, participants experienced local and global conditions that created a fascinating and important backdrop for their study of the impact of social determinants of health and how to address them. The program allowed participants to take part in interactive sessions about Indigenous Health, Disability and Social Exclusion, Race and Racism, Mental Health and Addictions, Gender and LGBTQ2+, Income and Employment, Housing and Food Security, and the study of Refugee and Immigrant struggles.

Below you will find some highlights of their achievements, and an explanation of how those involved in the program have applied their learnings to the current health care environment.

In their final projects, participants had an opportunity to create pitches aimed at finding ways to break down barriers that contribute to the social determinants of health, including:

Health Advocacy in Telemedicine Equality: Increasing awareness of the available programs and physicians at key centres that would provide continuity of care, and for access and secure locations for patients to log on for virtual appointments with providers.

Virtual Food Bank: Addressing household food insecurity and providing equitable Discharge Planning by offering patients access to a Virtual Food Bank, with delivery from hospital to home.

Mental Illness in Youth Detention Facilities: Improving youth mental health and utilizing mental health resources and accessibility to increase the likelihood of positive outcomes, resulting in successful reintegration into society and making communities safer overall.

On June 2, 2021, SHN hosted a special virtual celebration to commemorate the graduation of the first cohort of participants in the Health Equity Certificate Program. During this event, program participants presented their final projects, shared memories of their time in the program and the value they got out of it, and discussed the necessity and importance of this study of health equity.

On June 8, 2022, we celebrated the achievements of our second cohort with a virtual graduation ceremony. At that convocation event, we shared this video in which we had asked some of our grads to reflect on the impact this course has had.

Learn More

Learn More About Health Equity

What is health equity?

Health equity is created when individuals have the opportunity to achieve their full health potential; equity is undermined when preventable and avoidable systematic conditions constrain life choices. These conditions are known as the social determinants of health.

What are social determinants of health?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines social determinants of health as the circumstances in which people are born, develop, live, and age. This includes:

  • Income and Income Distribution
  • Education
  • Early Life
  • Housing
  • Employment and Working Conditions
  • Unemployment and Working Conditions
  • Food Security
  • Geography
  • Social Exclusion
  • Health Care Services
  • Gender
  • Race

What does Scarborough social-economic demographics look like?

Scarborough is a large suburb of Toronto and home to over 600,000 people. It is one of the most diverse and at risk communities in the country with 25% of children living in low income families, 17 percent of households being headed by a lone female parent, over 11% of the population being unemployed, 13% having no high school education, 70% of the population being visible minorities, 50% speaking a language other than English as their first language and 20% being new immigrants.

We know that the social conditions have a greater impact on health than genetics or access to health services. The health inequities affecting Scarborough’s population are seen in health demographic data. Some of the health care gaps revealed by the data are lower cancer screening rates, well baby checks and hospital utilization and higher rates of teen pregnancies, hospitalizations for coronary artery disease and diabetes.


Contact Information


Seemi Khan

Health Equity Lead
Scarborough Health Network


Dr. Mruna Shah, B.Sc (Phm), MD, FCFP

Director, Global Health, Diversity and Health Equity
Department of Family Medicine, Scarborough Health Network


Susanna Fung,

QI Lead, Department of Family and Community Medicine
Scarborough Health Network​​​​​​​