Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Glossary

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CPSO has made a commitment to examine how we, as an organization, can better fulfill our mandate through bringing equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) to our processes and policies. We are committed to addressing all forms of discrimination faced by equity-seeking groups. As we continue to listen, learn and be reflexive in this work, we are inviting you to do the same.

We have provided some resources that can help in this life-long journey of learning and unlearning on our EDI webpage. This glossary sets out the key terms/concepts to help establish a base for this learning and unlearning. Many of the definitions below are adapted from various sources, including but not limited to the Ontario Human Rights Commission, Rainbow Health Ontario, the Government of Canada, and universities.

Glossary of Key Terms/Concepts

Ableism: attitudes in society that devalue and limit the potential of persons with disabilities by seeing persons with disabilities as being less worthy of respect and consideration, less able to contribute and participate, or of less inherent value than others. Ableism may be conscious or unconscious and may be embedded in institutions, systems, or the broader culture of a society.

Accessibility: the degree to which persons with disabilities can access a device, service, or environment without barriers. Accessibility is also a process – it is the proactive identification, removal or reduction, and prevention of barriers to persons with disabilities.

Accommodation: a reactive and individualized adaptation or adjustment made to provide a person with a disability with equitable and non-discriminatory opportunities for participation.

Ageism: a socially constructed way of thinking about older persons based on negative attitudes and stereotypes about aging and a tendency to structure society based on an assumption that everyone is young, thereby failing to respond appropriately to the real needs of older persons.

Allyship: an active, consistent, and arduous practice of unlearning and re‑evaluating, in which an individual in a position of privilege and/or power seeks to operate in solidarity with a marginalized group. An ally supports people outside of their own group.

Anti-Oppression: a process of actively challenging systems of oppression on an ongoing basis. Anti-oppression work seeks to recognize the oppression that exists in our society and attempts to mitigate its effects and eventually equalize the power imbalance in our communities. Oppression operates at different levels (from individual to institutional to cultural) and anti-oppression work does as well.

Anti-Racism: a process of actively identifying and eliminating racism by challenging and changing the systems, structures, policies, behaviours, and beliefs that perpetuate racist ideas and actions.

Bias: an inclination to think something or someone is better or preferred, usually in a way considered to be unfair. Bias can be explicit or conscious or implicit or unconscious. Bias inhibits impartial judgment, thought, or analysis. Biases (particularly implicit or unconscious) are built into and perpetuated by societal systems and structures through socialization, and may conflict with our declared beliefs and how we see ourselves.

Protected grounds under the Human Rights Code: the Ontario Human Rights Code prohibits actions that discriminate against people based on protected grounds in protected social areas (including goods, services, and facilities, such as hospitals and health services). The protected grounds include age; ancestry, colour, race; citizenship; ethnic origin; place of origin; creed; disability; family status; marital status; gender identity, gender expression; receipt of public assistance; record of offences; sex; and sexual orientation.

Cultural Humility: a lifelong process of self-reflection to understand personal and systemic biases and develop relationships based on mutual trust. Cultural humility involves humbly acknowledging oneself as a learner when it comes to understanding another’s experience.

Cultural Safety: 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 and making decisions about their health care.

Discrimination: an act, communication, or decision that results in the unfair treatment of an individual or group, for example, by excluding them, imposing a burden on them, or denying them a right, privilege, benefit or opportunity enjoyed by others. Discrimination may be direct and intentional; it may also be indirect and unintentional, where rules, practices or procedures appear neutral, but have the impact of disadvantaging certain groups of people.

Discrimination results from a tendency to build society as though everyone is the same as the individuals or groups with privilege/power (e.g., all young, one gender, one race, one religion, or one level of ability). Failing to consider many perspectives, or not planning to include all people, may disadvantage individuals or groups with less privilege/power.

Heterosexism: the assumption that everyone is heterosexual and that heterosexuality is superior and preferable. The result is discrimination against bisexual, lesbian, and gay people that is less overt, and which may be unintentional and unrecognized by the person or organization responsible for the discrimination.

Homophobia: negative attitudes, feelings, or irrational aversion to, fear, or hatred of gay, lesbian, or bisexual people and communities, or to behaviours stereotyped as “homosexual.” It is commonly used to signify a hostile psychological state in the context of discrimination, harassment, or violence against gay, lesbian, or bisexual people.

Intersectionality: the intertwining of social identities such as gender, race, ethnicity, social class, religion, gender identity, and/or sexual orientation, which can result in unique experiences, opportunities, and barriers. This theory draws attention to how different systems of oppressive structures and types of discrimination interact and manifest in the lives of marginalized people; for example, a queer black woman may experience oppression on the basis of her sexuality, gender and race — a unique experience of oppression based on how those identities intersect in her life.

Marginalization: a social process by which individuals or groups are (intentionally or unintentionally) distanced from access to power and resources, and constructed as insignificant, peripheral, or less valuable/privileged to a community or “mainstream” society.

Microaggressions: everyday actions or comments that subtly express a stereotype of, or prejudice towards, a marginalized group. A microaggression is a form of discrimination.

Microaggressions enact and reinforce systems of oppression (e.g., racism, transphobia, homophobia, sexism) at an interpersonal level. Cumulatively, microaggressions contribute to larger systemic inequities that create, foster, and enforce marginalization. They reflect and reinforce harmful dominant imaginaries about which individuals or groups are superior/inferior, normal/abnormal, and desirable/undesirable.

Oppression: the systematic subjugation of one social group by a more powerful social group for the social, economic, and political benefit of the more powerful social groups.

Prejudice: negative opinions, feelings or beliefs held by someone about another individual or group, often based on negative stereotypes about race, age, sex, etc.

Privilege: unearned power, benefits, advantages, access, and/or opportunities that exist for members of dominant groups in society. People from dominant groups (e.g., white, heterosexual, male, able-bodied) often enjoy privileges that others do not, even if they did not ask for those privileges. Privilege is often invisible to those that have it.

Racism: individual, cultural, institutional, and systemic ways by which differential consequences are created for different racial groups, even if not overtly intentional. Racism is often grounded in a presumed superiority of the white race over groups historically or currently defined as non-white. Racism can also be defined as “prejudice plus power.” The combination of prejudice and power enables the mechanisms by which racism leads to different consequences for different groups.

Stereotypes: conventional, intuitive, and oversimplified conceptions, opinions, or images of a group of people. When people are stereotyped, most or all people in the group are given the same characteristics, regardless of their individual differences.

Transphobia: negative attitudes and feelings and the aversion to, fear or hatred of trans people and communities. Like other prejudices, it is based on stereotypes that are used to justify discrimination, harassment, and violence toward trans people, or those perceived to be trans.

Trauma: results from an event, series of events, or set of circumstances (e.g., abuse, neglect, racism and other forms of discrimination, violence) that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or threatening, and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and physical, psychological, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being. Trauma may be cultural, intergenerational, and/or historical.

Trauma-Informed Care: practices that promote a culture of safety, empowerment, and healing. Trauma-informed care is an approach to health care that recognizes the widespread impact of trauma on patients, identifies the signs and symptoms of trauma, and treats patients by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices and seeking to avoid re-traumatization.