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Black Experiences in Health Care Symposium: Bringing together community and health systems for improved health outcomes

This resource is available in English only.

Held on January 30, 2020, the Black Experiences in Health Care Symposium (BEHCS) generated rich, action-oriented dialogue about advancing Black health in Ontario. This important report of the proceedings is authored by This important report of the proceedings is authored by Black Health Alliance and Health Commons Solutions Lab and is and relevant to practitioners across Canada. It captures knowledge and experience shared during keynote presentations and breakout sessions. Readers can engage further by following links to keynote presentation videos, blog posts and other useful resources.

Recommendations to advance Black health

The report builds on themes that emerged within the symposium with 16 recommendations (p. 9–10) related to race-based data, accountability, mental health, systems change and building trust and solidarity.

These recommendations are summarized below:

Race-based data

  • Recognize the importance of collecting and using race-based data to improve and develop Black health strategies.
  • Partner with large health data and information entities.
  • Ensure race-based data collection spans across the continuum of care.
  • Identify ways to support multigenerational ways of knowing to inform data collection, analysis and interpretation.
  • Identify and support those already conducting research within or for Black communities.


  • Hold all publicly funded government agencies and health service providers accountable for race-based data collection, working towards improved care and outcomes for Black Ontarians and including Black leadership at all levels.
  • Improve communication with Black communities regarding data collection and use.
  • Increase accountability measures for universities and other research for around transparency and intended data use when engaging with Black communities.

Promote positive mental health

  • Create accessible and culturally competent mental health services for Black people and communities in Ontario.
  • Expand funding and services to support the families and loved ones of Black people experiencing mental illness.

Change systems to invest in Black health

  • Conduct an environmental scan to ascertain what has already been documented and learn where work is already occurring.
  • Standardize and mandate anti-Black racism, anti-oppression and decolonization training.
  • Establish monitoring and assessing systems for diversity in health care leadership.
  • Develop a Black-led strategy to identify Black representatives for community engagement opportunities in health care and to reflect the diversity within Black communities.

Build trust and solidarity

  • Create paid positions and roles for community trust–builders in health provider organizations.
  • Support, resource and fund platforms that are building solidarity amongst racialized communities.

Mobilizing the information in this report

To ensure that this report leads to meaningful action, readers are guided to take several next steps, detailed on page 11:

  • Share key findings from the report and promote related work.
  • Develop a Black-led strategy aimed at improving Black health.
  • Engage in opportunities to build alignment and solidarity with other racialized communities.

Use this resource to

  • convene conversations within your public health organization to mobilize the knowledge, connections and recommendations shared in this report;
  • connect with those leading existing work for Black communities and identify opportunities to support, partner and coordinate; and
  • advocate for accountability measures and strategies to improve Black health outcomes.


Black Health Alliance, Health Commons Solutions Lab. (2020). Black Experiences in Health Care Symposium: Bringing together community and health systems for improved health outcomes. Toronto, ON: Health Commons Solutions Lab.

Related resources

Tags: Community engagement, Cultural competency, Mental Health, Racism/racialization, Report / Document

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