There are many reports of anti-Black racism in medicine in Canada, often in the form of stereotyping and provider bias. Systematic anti-Black racism affects the health of Black people and communities. One way to make a change is to increase the number of black medical students and black physicians in Canada.
Black students are underrepresented in medical schools. Universities across Canada have recently made changes to their admission process to help increase the number of Black medical students. For example, the University of Toronto was the first to create an optional application stream for Black students. This aims to increase diversity and ensure that the applicant’s identity is taken into consideration when their application is reviewed.
However, it is often the cost of medical school that is a deterrent. The non-profit organization Canada Without Poverty says that one in five racialized families live in poverty in Canada, as opposed to one in twenty white families. In addition to the hundreds of dollars the MCAT can cost, most students also benefit from a prep course which can also cost a few thousand dollars, and that is even before the actual cost of medical school. These financial burdens make getting into medical school, and completing it, out of the reach of many talented Black students.
In 2022, the Canadian Medical Foundation partnered with the Black Business Professionals Association (BBPA) to establish a bursary for Black medical students. The BBPA has a long, established history of promoting and celebrating excellence in Black Canadian youth, having established its National Scholarship Program in 1986. The BBPA will administer the CMF Bursary for Black Medical Students, with selection criteria to include academic achievement, financial need, as well as contribution to the Black community.