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Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

The College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario (COTO) is committed to equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI). The College acknowledges, honours, and respects the fundamental value and dignity of all people.

We recognize the importance of EDI in fulfilling our mandate: to protect the public through effective regulation of occupational therapists. 

Equity, diversity and inclusion are core elements of our values, commitments and strategic plan. We aim to create a safe space for diverse, open, and honest contributions as we work together to achieve our mandate.

Our values and commitments

Treating everyone with dignity and respect

We consider the uniqueness of each situation. We are respectful of all voices, conscious of bias, open-minded, and dedicated to learning. We are committed to integrating equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) practices throughout our organization and the occupational therapy profession to protect the public interest.

Maintaining trust and confidence

We are fair, open and responsive. We are proactive. We hold ourselves accountable for our decisions and actions. 

Partnering for quality

We listen. We work together to ensure quality occupational therapy services across the province.

Integrating EDI throughout the College and the Profession

As part of the 2024 - 2027 Strategic Priorities, COTO has a dedicated goal to integrate the practices of equity, diversity and inclusion throughout the College and profession.

Expectation for occupational therapists to provide culturally safe services

The Competencies for Occupational Therapists in Canada (2021) outlines the expectation for occupational therapists to provide culturally safer health services, while upholding the human rights of all clients and people who work with occupational therapists.

The Culture, Equity and Justice section of the Competencies says occupational therapists are expected to:

  • Promote equity in practice
  • Promote anti-oppressive behaviour and culturally safer, inclusive relationships
  • Contribute to equitable access to occupational participation and occupational therapy

To learn more, view the Competencies for Occupational Therapists in Canada.

What is cultural safety*?

  • Cultural safety is about the experience of the patient or client.
  • It is an outcome based on respectful engagement that recognizes and strives to address power imbalances inherent in the healthcare system.
  • It results in an environment free of racism and discrimination, where people feel safe when receiving health care.

*Adapted from the BC First Nations Health Authority (2016). Creating a Climate for Change: Cultural Safety and Humility in Health Services for First Nations and Aboriginal Peoples in British Columbia.

What does this mean for patients and clients?

When working with an occupational therapist:

  • You should expect to feel safe, respected and valued.
  • You should expect to receive care without fear of judgment or harm. Cultural safety recognizes that people from different communities may not feel safe in healthcare settings. Some people may feel afraid or distrustful because of historical or ongoing experiences of discrimination.
  • You should expect your therapist to be willing to talk openly with you and handle feedback well.
  • You should expect your occupational therapist to adjust their approach to fit your needs. Making services culturally safer means understanding power dynamics and making sure everyone feels safe. Occupational therapists should understand they are in a position of power and privilege as health care providers.

What is the College doing?

Working with system partners

In addition to our 2024 - 2027 Strategic Priorities, we also work together with our health system partners to support and advance EDI in health care.

  • Health Profession Regulators of Ontario (HPRO) Anti-Racism Steering Committee: COTO works with other health regulatory colleges to identify systemic racism and implement tangible solutions that help build health systems and practices that reinforce EDI.

Culture, Equity, and Justice in Occupational Therapy Practice

COTO launched the Culture, Equity, and Justice in Occupational Therapy Practice resource in 2022 as a starting point to help occupational therapists apply principles of culture, equity, and justice in their practice. This resource complements the Competencies for Occupational Therapists in Canada (2021), Domain C: Culture, Equity and Justice. 

Equity Perspectives Advisory Committee

This advisory committee explores, discusses and provides recommendations on current occupational therapy practice issues relevant to equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI). They have provided input on topics such as: College policies, standards, the Culture, Equity, and Justice in Occupational Therapy Practice document and more.

Committee members are volunteer occupational therapists who are members of one or more equity-deserving groups, including: Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, LGBTQ2SIA+ and/or those who face historic and ongoing systemic oppression due to social identities and positions including, but not limited to, race, ethnicity, dis/ability, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation and/or religion.

See our Supporting Indigenous Communities page for information on our Indigenous Insights Advisory Committee.

Additional Resources

COTO has compiled a list of helpful resources for patients, clients, occupational therapists, and others who want to learn more about equity, diversity, and inclusion. The resources are not produced by COTO and are provided as reference material.

Allyship 

Disability

Gender Equality

Implicit Bias

LGBTQ2S+

Microaggressions

Racism

Anti-BIPOC Racism

Anti-Indigenous Racism

Religious-based Care

Weight Bias



We will continue to listen and learn as we work together to move forward.

Please contact the Practice Resource Team at [email protected] or 1-800-890-6570 x240 with any questions or comments. If you have specific questions regarding resources, please contact the authoring organization.