Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond speaks to a reporter in Vancouver on November 13, 2015. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Bad Video Embed Code

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond speaks to a reporter in Vancouver on November 13, 2015. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

No evidence that B.C. ER staff played blood alcohol level game, but Indigenous racism ‘widespread’

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond releases findings of independent investigation

An independent investigation by Dr. Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has laid out 24 recommendations to address what she called a “widespread and insidious” problem with racism against Indigenous peoples in B.C.’s health care system.

The former child and youth watchdog was appointed by Health Minister Adrian Dix earlier this year to probe allegations of a “Price is Right” style game taking place in emergency rooms and hospitals around the province. It was alleged that nurses and doctors were making a game out of guessing the alcohol-blood level of patients, particularly those who were Indigenous.

While there was no evidence found to confirm such a game was being played in B.C. hospital emergency departments, Turpel-Lafond said in a news conference Monday (Nov. 30) that she did find clear evidence of a lack of cultural safety and hundreds of examples of prejudice and racism throughout the entire B.C. health care system.

READ MORE: MLA ‘devastated’ by claims of racist blood-alcohol game at Greater Victoria hospital

READ MORE: B.C. First Nations leaders ‘disgusted’ by allegations of racist blood-alcohol guessing game

“It doesn’t mean every Indigenous person who gets health care will experience direct or indirect racism, but it does mean that any Indigenous person could experience it – anywhere in the system,” she noted.

From the launch of the investigation in July to its conclusion, almost 9,000 people participated in online and telephone surveys, including more than 2,700 Indigenous peoples and 5,400 health workers. Key informant interviews were also carried out.

The surveys found 84 per cent of Indigenous respondents have experienced some form of discrimination in health care and 52 per cent of Indigenous health-care workers reported personally experiencing racial prejudice at work.

More than one-third of non-Indigenous health care workers personally witnessed racism or discrimination directed at Indigenous patients, noted Turpel-Lafond.

To address the widespread systemic racism, a total of 24 recommendations that take a strong human rights approach consistent with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People have been issued.

At the news conference, Dix issued a public apology and said he would be directing the health ministry to immediately work with their Indigenous and Metis partners to implement the recommendations.

In addition, five new Indigenous health liaison workers will be added to each B.C. health authority. Dawn Thomas, Island Health’s vice president of Indigenous health and diversity, will serve as associate deputy minister to lead the recommendations’ implementation. A task force will also be established.

Both the 1-800 number and survey email used within the investigation to report instances of racism in the B.C. healthcare system will remain active until there is action underway on an effective complaints process.

“Racism is toxic for people, and it’s toxic for care,” Dix said.

“I want to make an unequivocal apology as the minister of health to those who have experienced racism in accessing healthcare in British Columbia now and in the past.”


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
rebecca.dyok@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC HealthFirst Nations

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Amanda Parsons, a registered nurse on staff at the Northwood Care facility, administers a dose of the Moderna vaccine to Ann Hicks, 77, in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan-Pool
61 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

Twenty-nine people are in hospital, seven of whom are in intensive care

Community mental health workers are in high demand, and a new program at Selkirk College will provide opportunities in this field. File Photo
Selkirk College to train community mental health workers

Twelve students will complete two courses enabling them to work in health and human services

Dr. Cori Lausen, bat specialist, has questions about logging in an unusual bat habitat near Beasley. Photo: Submitted
Kaslo biologist questions logging at unique West Kootenay bat site

Dr. Cori Lausen, a bat specialist, studies a population of bats above Beasley

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

Interior Health has declared the Cariboo Chilcotin a community cluster. (Angie Mindus photo)
Interior Health declares Cariboo Chilcotin region a COVID-19 cluster, 215 cases since Jan. 1

Most cases are related to transmission at social events and gatherings in Williams Lake

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Vernon's Noric House long-term care facility is dealing with an influenza outbreak amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (File photo)
Two more deaths at Vernon care home

Noric House case numbers remain steady, but death toll rises

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
1-in-5 COVID tests coming back positive in and around Fernie, sparking concern

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Most Read