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DHS statement on COVID-19

Social distance reminders at a medical clinic waiting room

DHS Statement on COVID-19, Discrimination, and Anti-Asian Racism

March 17, 2021

Dear Students,

In light of recent media attention on anti-Asian racism and violence against women, we want to share with you our continuing commitment to working towards a more just society. While recent events and the COVID-19 pandemic have turned attention to anti-Asian racism, we recognize that this violence and the struggle against it are longstanding. As a Department, we are working to address the root causes of racism and other intersecting forms of violence and to develop anti-oppressive practices. We will not tolerate such violence in our classrooms or on our campus. If you are experiencing any form of discrimination, we encourage you to reach out to the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Office at UTSC for support.

Please see below for the Department of Health and Society's Statement on COVID-19. Click here to read the Department’s Statement on Anti-Black Racism.

DHS Statement on COVID-19

The University of Toronto is committed to equity, human rights, and respect for diversity. All members of the learning environment in this department—students, teaching assistants, and educators alike—should strive to create an atmosphere of mutual respect that allows us to engage with one another while respecting our myriad differences. U of T does not condone discrimination or harassment against any persons or communities.

At DHS, our core values include integrity, interdisciplinarity, scholarly excellence, responsible relationships, and justice-oriented praxis. These core values inform our response to COVID-19. As COVID-19 spreads, and pandemic responses evolve, this disease and its aftermath is not impacting all people and communities in Canada equally. Both COVID-19 and attempts to address it have had a disproportionate impact on people of colour, Indigenous people, people living with disabilities, the elderly, gender and sexual minorities, and people of lower socioeconomic status. At DHS, we are committed to understanding and responding to the COVID-19 crisis in ways that recognize and respond to these inequities.

The virus that causes COVID-19 does not discriminate; anyone can become infected and any infected person can pass the virus to others. Nevertheless, the spread of COVID-19 has been accompanied by a rise in racial discrimination, harassment, and bigotry directed at those who are perceived to be East Asian or of East Asian origin. Anti-Asian discrimination has long been present in Canada; however, a proliferation of misinformation in response to COVID-19 has made it more visible. Simultaneously, COVID-19 infection and mortality rates have disproportionately affected older people and those working in long term care, which has resulted in misinformed discussions of age-based health care “rationing” and risky work environments that endanger the lives of care providers.

DHS strongly denounces xenophobia, racism, ageism, and labour-related discrimination.  If you experience any form of discrimination, we encourage you to reach out to the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Office at UTSC for support. If you witness microaggression or harassment, we encourage you to interrupt harmful messages and/or misinformation from being shared and offer support to the person being harmed. Please visit this website, from the U of T Faculty of Medicine for more information on supporting people who are experiencing racism or harassment.

Health Studies students -- Click here for a message from the Director re. COVID-19