Update to phone lines at our Birchmount and General Hospitals: If calling through Birchmount main line (416-495-2400), add “7” when dialing an extension. If calling through General main line (416-438-2911), add “8” when dialing an extension.

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 2023, we will be launching the forth 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.

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 15.0 Mainpro+ credits.

How the Program Works

Based on current pandemic restrictions, all sessions will be held virtually via Zoom. 

The Core stream will include nine 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 13 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 written reflections at the end of the program. Time commitment: 20 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

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.

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 Cohorts

SHN’s previous 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 the 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, Racism and Oppression, Refugee and Newcomer Health, Mental Health and Addictions, Gender and 2SLGBTQ+, Income and Employment, and Housing and Food Security.

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