Federated Health Charities (FHC) has spent a significant part of the past two years working towards our commitments to diversity, inclusivity, anti-black racism, and anti-indigenous racism. Since the Federated Health campaign is near-and-dear to many OPS’ers, we want to highlight what we’ve been up to and what we need to do to continue to make strides towards our goals.
Some Background on Federated Health’s Diversity & Inclusivity Commitments
Since inception, FHC has been dedicated to raising funds for its charity members to support health education and awareness, medical research, and client and patient services for all Ontarians.
Over the past two years, FHC has had the opportunity to engage in important conversations with members of the Ontario Public Service (OPS) Diversity Councils, the Black Ontario Public Service Employees Network, and the OPS Federated Health Advisory Committee regarding systemic racism in the health not-for-profit sector.
We are thankful to these groups for opening a dialogue with us that has brought to light historic inequities. These conversations have allowed FHC and its member charities to better focus on health inequities, particularly within the Black and Indigenous communities.
As an organization we recognize the links between structural anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism and health inequities and how this leads to poorer health outcomes for Black and Indigenous communities. This structural racism can take the form of decreased access to funding, lack of awareness of health issues that are prevalent in Black and Indigenous communities, fewer supports available to combat health concerns, and a lack of Black and Indigenous voices involved in community health decisions.
Our Commitments to Diversity & Inclusivity
FHC and its charity members recognized the need for additional work to be done within the federation to ensure our membership was as diverse as the province it aims to serve. Two years ago, we made four specific commitments to move us towards this goal. Here is what we have achieved:
- Taking immediate action to begin filling some of the gaps in our membership list by onboarding a charity that focuses on a prevalent health issue for Black Ontarians.
Status: Complete. In 2020 we welcomed the Sickle Cell Awareness Group of Ontario to the FHC membership. Additional Note: we are looking to onboard an organization that focuses on Indigenous health as our next step.
- Taking steps to increase OPS representation on our Board of Directors, as well as ensuring that Board members appointed by FHC member charities reflect the diversity of Ontario.
Status: Complete. Successfully recruited 5 additional OPS Board positions. Additionally, we formed an OPS Advisory Committee to further enhance the diverse OPS voices contributing to decision making. Completed the redevelopment of the contract between FHC and its member charities, outlining diversity expectations for Board appointees.
- Striking a Task Force to focus on reviewing existing FHC governance and onboarding policies. Objectives will include: creating governance models that reflect key elements of cultural safety and anti-oppression, amending our onboarding process to ensure it is not contributing to existing funding barriers, creating an ongoing process for assessing gaps in our membership against prevailing health issues that affect Black and Indigenous communities, and developing a more proactive and responsive charity recruitment process.
Status: In Process. Developed a Charity Onboarding Policy to enable FHC to be proactive in assessing membership gaps and outreach to underserved communities and an Incoming Charity Fee & Reserve Fund Payment Policy to reduce financial barriers for involvement for underfunded charities. The Task Force is now focusing on conducting an outside review of our Board governance model, polices and practices to ensure appropriate changes are made to support diversity & inclusivity.
- Developing a minimum requirement for our member charities regarding their diversity and inclusion policies and practices as well as better communication and promotion of the work our charities are doing to serve health issues affecting Black and Indigenous communities.
Status: In Process. Struck a Task Force to assess current diversity & inclusivity work being conducted by our member charities, to determine reasonable minimum requirements for member charities and a process for implementation.
Next Steps for Federated Health’s Diversity & Inclusivity Work
FHC is committed to ensuring they provide a vehicle for which OPS employees can contribute to the charities that best represent the health issues most important to them. We are proud of the steps we have taken the past two years, but it is only the beginning. These steps have laid the track for long-term changes, have opened the door for ongoing conversations, and have strengthened our commitment to better fulfill our mission of supporting the health of all Ontarians.
How Can You Help
To continue to expand, to broaden the collection of charities we support, and to provide sustainable funding to underserved communities, we need donations. All this work is funded by donations, so we need to continue to grow the campaign to keep achieving our goals and honouring our commitments. That’s where you come in! Federated Health has practiced openness and transparency in our desire to grow as an organization and the areas we can improve, and we have demonstrated a track record of taking action and following-through on our commitments to diversity & inclusivity. If these efforts align with your beliefs, we ask that you show your support in this year’s campaign. Our success in this campaign will allow us to continue with this work for another year.