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

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

Just Posted

Fernie Aquatic Centre is scheduled to reopen in mid to late September. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Fernie Aquatic Centre to get new starting blocks

The new blocks will allow the centre to host more competitive swim meets

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Brock Tomlinson, Kiera Hansen on top, Jackson Radkie and Jarren Beck are some of the Elk Valley Dolphins' divisional championship qualifiers: pictured here excited to race. (Contributed by Angie Abdou)
Eight Dolphins qualify for divisional championships

Contributed by Angie Abdou Elk Valley Dolphins Swim Club June 19th brings… Continue reading

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

Students at Creston Valley Secondary School put together an art installation of a replica residential school room. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
Creston students create art installation of residential school room

The replica was decorated with a small bed, school uniform, and notes written with pleas for help

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Most Read