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

Interior Health update. File photo.
86 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

The new deaths are from Heritage Square, a long-term care facility in Vernon

A power outage Thursday night left nearly 3,000 homes in Clinton and the 70 Mile areas in the dark. (Katie McCullough photo).
Updated: Clinton, 70 Mile left in the dark after vehicle crashes into transmission pole

BC Hydro still working to restore power to 330 homes in 70 Mile House

A woman wearing a protective face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
115 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths in Interior Health

There are now a total of 4,970 cases in the region

Community consultation is now open regarding disposal of the former Ashcroft Elementary property, which since 2015 has operated as the Ashcroft HUB. (Photo credit: Vicci Weller)
Feedback now sought regarding disposal of Ashcroft Elementary

Residents of the region can have their say about the future of the former AES property

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the press theatre at the B.C. legislature for an update on COVID-19, Jan. 7, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 spread steady with 509 new cases Friday

Hospitalized and critical care cases decline, nine deaths

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

A COVID-19 outbreak at Vernon's Heritage Square long-term care home has claimed seven people. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Two more COVID-19 deaths at Vernon care home

Heritage Square has now lost seven people due to the outbreak

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government reinforces importance of anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Black Press media file
Port McNeill driver tells police he thought the pandemic meant no breathalyzers

Suspect facing criminal charges after breathalyzer readings in excess of 3.5 times the legal limit

Most Read