University of Toronto launches Masters program in Black health

By Melissa Nakhavoly

A new masters program in Black health – the first of its kind in the world – is set to launch at the University of Toronto next fall.

Dr. Roberta Timothy, the program’s creator, says the goal is to empower the next generation of health care providers by addressing the effects of anti-Black racism that have been in the health care industry for decades.

“The journey is 400 years coming,” says Timothy, the Assistant Professor at the U of T’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health.

“It’s wonderful to have the program but the fact that we need this program because of the impact of anti-Black racism on Black health, locally and globally, it’s a sad reality.”

Dr. Timothy has been working in the field of Black and community health for the last 30 years and throughout that time she says she didn’t feel supported in her research, adding she was told she wouldn’t get a job if she kept talking about anti-Black racism in healthcare.

“This would have been life changing for me,” she says. “This program would of been a program that I could have gone into that I could have felt heard, seen, and would have supported my continued journey in doing health work.”

Dr. Timothy says what would have normally taken 18 months to create only took five, largely due to the advocacy and activism over the last three years.

“We look at what happened in terms of COVID-19, which is still existing, and that Black folks were disproportionately being impacted gravely by COVID, and the other pandemics of anti-Black racism.”

According to the Government of Canada’s website when surveyed, Black Canadians say they experienced racial discrimination and inequities in healthcare which also translated into other aspects of life, such as employment and housing. Between 2010 and 2013 14.2 per cent of Black Canadians age 18 years and older reported their health to be fair or poor, compared to 11.3 per cent of White Canadians. Dr. Timothy hopes this program will change that.

“I feel humbled, I feel nervous, I feel that my ancestors before me have done a lot of work to bring this together and I feel like its part of my journey and my accountability to continue doing this work.”

The program is two years for full-time students and four years for part-time. It will consist of six core courses on Black health alongside general requirements found in typical masters of public health programs.

Application for the program will open in October 2022 for between 10 to 15 students. Students will start taking the courses as of September 2023.

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today