Advancing Health Equity

The Charles Hastings Lecture

Presented by the Medical Officer of Health, the Charles Hastings Lecture is a free public lecture on the social determinants of health. The annual event was inaugurated in 2008 to celebrate 125 years of Public Health in Toronto. It honours the legacy of Dr. Charles Hastings, who served as Toronto's Medical Officer of Health from 1910 to 1929.

Dr. Hastings transformed the practice of public health in Toronto. He introduced a safe water supply, initiated childhood immunization, established the public health nursing system, and instituted health inspections of restaurants.By 1922, under his leadership, Toronto had the lowest death rate of any large North American city.

Join us for the 2017 Charles Hastings Lecture

Housing and Health: Unlocking Opportunity

Monday, April 24, 2017
6:00pm - 8:30pm
Isabel Bader Theatre
93 Charles Street West
Toronto, Ontario

Register Online

Housing and Health: Unlocking Opportunity

featuring Dr. Raphael Bostic


"It is homes we must give our people, not merely shelter."

Dr. Charles Hasting, Toronto Medical Officer of Health (1910-1929)

In 1911, Dr. Charles Hastings released a seminal report on the 'slum conditions' in Toronto. His commitment and leadership resulted in widespread housing reforms such as demolishing substandard housing, creating social housing and stricter housing standards.


Today, Toronto has one of the most expensive housing markets in Canada. Research and lived experience in Toronto demonstrates that unaffordable housing, poor quality housing and housing instability are associated negative mental health and physical health outcomes.


This year's Hastings Lecture will focus on housing as a social determinant of health and advancing health and health equity as explicit goals in housing policy.


Our keynote speaker, Dr. Raphael Bostic, will explore the link between housing and health, as well as the need for cross-sectoral collaboration between the housing and health sectors. Our panel members, Dr. Stephen Gaetz and Jay Pitter, will discuss housing and homelessness in Toronto.

Dr. Raphael Bostic 

Dr. Bostic is a Professor at the Sol Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California. Dr. Bostic served for 3 years in the Obama Administration as the Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Dr. Bostic emphasizes the importance of health evidence in housing policy, by using a Health in All Policies approach. Dr. Bostic reports on his experience implementing this approach in the article Health in All Policies: The Role of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and Present and Future Challenges.  

Dr. Steve Gaetz

Dr. Stephen Gaetz

Dr. Gaetz is a professor, leading international researcher on homelessness and the Director of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness at York University. Dr. Gaetz focuses his efforts on conducting research and mobilizing this knowledge so as to have a greater impact on solutions to homelessness. He has played a leading international role in knowledge dissemination in the area of homelessness through the Homeless Hub. Dr. Gaetz is also the President of the charity Raising the Roof.


Jay Pitter

Jay Pitter

Jay Pitter is an author, placemaker and senior stakeholder engagement professional. Ms. Pitter's work has consistently resulted in improving the resources and relationships required for co-creating more inclusive, safe, and vibrant cities. Recently she collaborated with Westbank to increase community engagement in the Honest Ed’s redevelopment process, consulted on Edmonton's new heritage plan and co-edited Subdivided - an anthology exploring inclusive city-building. She is currently working on her next literary project exploring Canada's housing crisis and teaches an urban planning course at Ryerson University.

Aboriginal Health: Truth, Reconciliation and Healing

featuring Dr. Evan Adams and Duncan McCue


The 2014 Hastings Lecture featured speakers Dr. Evan Adams (Chief Medical Officer for B.C.'s First Nations Health Authority) and Duncan McCue (CBC News Reporter), who shared their experiences and stories of Aboriginal health, and discussed strategies for community healing. They explored how Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal health systems can work together to improve Canada's health.

Missed the lecture? You can read a recap of our live-tweets during the event.


Dr. Evan Adams

Dr Evan Adams of the Sliammon First Nation (Powell River, B.C.) is an actor and physician. He is currently the Deputy Provincial Health Officer for Aboriginal Health in B.C.  

On December 1, 2014 Dr. Adams will become B.C.'s first Medical Officer of Health for the First Nations Health Authority. In March 2014, he received an Inspire Award which recognizes Indigenous professionals and youth who demonstrate outstanding career achievement.

Dr. Adams completed his MD at the University of Calgary, an Aboriginal Family Practice residency at St Paul's Hospital/UBC, and a Masters of Public Health degree from John Hopkins University. 

 As an actor, Dr. Adams starred in the Emmy award-winning TV movie Lost in the Barrens and won the 1999 Independent Spirit Award for Performance in the Miramax feature Smoke Signals.

Duncan McCue

Duncan McCue has been a reporter for  CBC news for over 15 years. His news and current affairs pieces are featured on The National. In 2014, his series 'Last Right' won a Webster Award for excellence in legal journalism.

Mr. McCue was awarded a Knight Fellowship at Stanford University in 2011, where he created an online guide for journalists called Reporting in Indigenous Communities.

Mr. McCue is also an adjunct professor at the UBC School of Journalism, and has taught journalism to indigenous students at First Nations University and Capilano College. Before coming a journalist, Mr. McCue studied English at the University of King's College, then Law at UBC. He was called to the B.C. Bar in 1998.

Mr. McCue is Anishinaabe, a member of the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation in Southern Ontario.

Race and Health: A Healthy Future for All

featuring Dr. David Williams


"Racism is bad for your health; it is a public health issue in Toronto" began Dr. McKeown in setting the stage for the 2013 Charles Hastings Lecture on Public Health that took place on October 29th at the Isabel Bader Theatre. The Hastings Lecture is an annual public lecture on the social determinants of health. This year's keynote address, entitled "Race and Health – A Healthy Future for All" was delivered by Dr. David Williams, Harvard University professor and internationally recognized authority on racism as a determinant of health. 

Drawing primarily on U.S. data, Dr. Williams left no stone unturned, presenting extensive research that established the prevalence of racism in society, and the degree to which the experience of racial discrimination damages physical and mental health. Dr. Williams told the audience: "Everyday discrimination is positively associated with many poor health outcomes. Racism has a weathering effect. The ongoing adversity of everyday discrimination, and the heightened vigilance that comes with it, wears the body down."

Dr. Williams was joined on the stage by Uzma Shakir, Director of Diversity and Human Rights at the City of Toronto, and Naki Osutei, Director of Diversity and Inclusion for Toronto 2015 Pan/ Parapan American Games. These local equity leaders brought a unique take on the discourse of racism on this city, and drew on their personal experiences to bring the issue to life.

The profile of the issue of racism and health was given a significant boost in Toronto on October 29th. It was the first time a medical officer of health described racism as a public health issue in this country.

For more information please download Dr. Williams' presentation deck (PDF).

Closing the Gap: Building a healthier and more vibrant Toronto

featuring Sir Michael Marmot

"Dream with me, of a world where social justice is taken seriously. Then take the pragmatic steps necessary to achieve it." That is how acclaimed health equity expert Sir Michael Marmot ended his much anticipated key note address at the 2012 Charles Hastings Lecture.

During his key note address, Sir Michael spoke passionately that health is an indicator of how well we are doing as a society. His lecture begged the question of what kind of city we aspire to: A Toronto with an affluent few? Or a Toronto where all people have the life chances to achieve optimal health?

Sir Michael drove home the message that reducing health inequalities arising from a “toxic combination” of unfair social and economic policies requires action from across sectors. In other words, health is everyone's business. This passionate lecture reinvigorated commitment toward doing what is right and socially just for a city where everyone can flourish. Such a city is within our reach and the 2012 Hastings Lecture created the vital momentum to get us closer. 

Sir Michael Marmot

Sir Michael Marmot is the Chair of the World Health Organization Commission on the Social Determinants of Health as well as the Chair of the European Review of Social Determinants of Health and the Health Divide. Through his groundbreaking research he has demonstrated that the more socially and economically advantaged people are, the better their health is. In 2000, he was knighted by Her Majesty The Queen for services to Epidemiology and the understanding of health inequalities.