Women have unique health needs, but not all women’s needs are the same. Women of colour, Indigenous women, and newcomers to Canada all have different experiences, and may require different kinds of care.
These differences include unequal rates of certain hereditary illnesses, differences in physical proximity to care services, racial and sexual discrimination in the healthcare system, social and cultural barriers that can discourage women from seeking care, and the costs associated with illness and recovery.
Closing the gender-based health gap requires research on the issues that affect women from a range of backgrounds and experiences.
Across the country, WHCC member foundations and teams of dedicated researchers are working to support high quality care for all women by advancing research, and by providing care in a way that is carefully informed and culturally sensitive. Below are a few examples of how WHCC members are providing high quality care that is sensitive to the different needs and experiences of women in Canada.
The Centre for Wise Practices in Indigenous Health at Women’s College Hospital is mobilizing and implementing recommendations specific to healthcare and education from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Persons, and the Final Report from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
In collaboration with Indigenous community organizations from across Alberta, the NWT, northern BC, and northern Saskatchewan, the Lois Hole Hospital for Women is piloting the Indigenous Cultural Partnership program. This program advocates for equal representation and prioritization of Indigenous health and wellness knowledge systems/practices in sexual and reproductive health alongside the Euro-Canadian approach that is already in place.
At BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre, creating a safe, welcoming environment for Indigenous patients and their families while in care is a key goal of the Indigenous Health program. Indigenous patients can seek healing using a traditional approach, enjoy a dedicated outdoor sacred space, and access elder services that provide spiritual care and support.