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Serving the health needs of a diverse population; ensuring workplaces and services free of discrimination and harassment; promoting employment equity—it’s a tall order. The Vancouver/Richmond Health Board (V/RHB) aims to do better in the future by building on existing strengths, encouraging proactive planning, demanding accountability from management and involving the community. In June 2000 this huge regional health board adopted a “Framework for Diversity” which sets a high standard for health planning across Canada.

The 32 page document is a tool kit intended to build common understanding and to promote comprehensive, effective program planning and implementation. It gives planners up-to-date overviews of legislative requirements and other standards, key concept explanations and strategies in three areas: diversity in health services delivery, human rights and employment equity.

The Framework assists in giving programmatic force to two policy statements approved by the board in May 1999, one for diversity and the other for employment equity. While work had been going on since the 1980s on specific elements of diversity such as multicultural health, it was calls from several of the V/RHB Population Health Advisory Committees (PHAC) which led to the new policies. The eight population-based PHACs were established to represent the needs of population groups traditionally not well served by the health system. These include Aboriginal, Children and Youth, Disabilties, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender, Mental Health, Multicultural, Seniors and Women PHACs.

The Health Board has also taken a ground-breaking step in adding Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender as a fifth designated group to be included in all its employment equity initiatives. The four other recognized equity-seeking groups are women, ‘visible minorities’ (people of Colour), Aboriginal peoples and people with disabilities.

The diversity framework complements the Vancouver/Richmond Health Board’s new “Framework for Women-centred Health” which emerged from a comprehensive Women’s Health Planning Project in January 2000 and is now beginning to be put into action. Both frameworks recognize barriers to access and participation, and historical inequities, but also seek to put into practice the idea that social and cultural diversity is a source of strength rather than a problem.

Both the “Framework for Diversity” and the “Final Report of the Women’s Health Planning Project”, which contains the Framework for Women-Centred Health, can be obtained from the V/RHB Public and Community Involvement home page at http://www.vcn.bc.ca/vrhb/vrhb_documents.htm



The Paradox of Diversity: The Construction of a Multicultural Canada And “Women of Color”
by Himani Bannerji, Department of Sociology, York University, Toronto. This article explores critically the composite discourse of multiculturalism and diversity from a feminist anti-racist perspective. Published in Women’s Studies International Forum; Vol 23 No 5, September-October 2000.
Counseling Model For Women of Colour Survivors of Family Violence, Sexual Abuse and Related Trauma.
Melanin Institute, Victoria, British Columbia, 1996, 1997.
Prairie Women, Violence And Self-Harm.
Prepared by Cathy Fillmore, University of Winnipeg, Colleen Anne Dell, Carleton University and The Elizabeth Fry Society of Manitoba. A research study with specific recommendations for correctional and community staff and for policy development dealing with incidents of self-harm among women in conflict with the law. January 2001.
Transforming Cultural Competence into Cross-Cultural Efficacy in Women’s Health Education,
by Ana E. Nunez, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Director, Women’s Health Education Program, MCP Hahnermann University. Published in Academic Medicine, Vol 75 No 11, November 2000.
Thematic issues before the Commission on the Status of Women:
Report of the Secretary-General, ‘Women, the girl child and human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS); Gender and all forms of discrimination, in particular racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.’Contains recommendations to the UN system and intergovernmental bodies. Includes a call for participation and contributions from NGOs. March 2001.

Contact the Canadian Women’s Health Network Information Centre for ordering information of the above materials.
Toll-free: 1-888-818-9172
E-mail: questions@cwhn.ca