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

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

Just Posted

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of May 9

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

<a href="Facebook users reported seeing a body on the side of the road this morning." target="_blank"></a>Facebook users reported seeing a body on the side of the road this morning. (File photo)
Man killed in fatal hit-and-run collision between Abbotsford and Chilliwack

Body reported at 6 a.m., police close North Parallel Road, single highway lane as they investigate

Westbound traffic is slow moving on Highway 1 following a crash that has police blocking one lane. Google Maps screenshot taken at 9:07 a.m.
TRAFFIC: Crash on North Parallel Road causes road closure, single westbound Highway 1 lane blocked

Abbotsford Police investigating, roads closed between McDermott and No. 3 Road

Kassandra Clack of Abbotsford has been named one of 18 finalists in the Jim Beam Virtual National Talent Search, taking place in June.
Fraser Valley country singer Kassandra Clack a finalist in national talent search

18 finalists vie to win Jim Beam Virtual National Talent Search in June

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Pieces of nephrite jade are shown at a mine site in northwestern B.C. in July 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Tahltan Central Government MANDATORY CREDIT
Indigenous nation opposes jade mining in northwestern B.C.

B.C.’s Mines Act requires operators to prepare a plan to protect cultural heritage resources

Vancouver Giants celebrated a Justin Sourdif goal Saturday night in Kamloops. Giants dropped a 3-1 decision to Kamloops, a game that clinched the 2020-21 B.C. Division banner for the Blazers. (Allen Douglas/special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Vancouver Giants drop 3-1 decision to Kamloops

Third-period rally should have come sooner, said coach of Langley-based team

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country’s crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
IHIT investigating after man killed in Burnaby shooting

Police looking for more information on fatal shooting

After Bobby Henderson apologized online for his comments to a Toronto reporter, the Langley Rivermen announced that he was no longer team coach and general manager and in fact, had ‘parted ways’ with the franchise in March. (file/Twitter)
Former Langley Rivermen coach and GM apologizes for comments to Toronto reporter

Bobby Henderson blames stress due to the pandemic for his ‘disparaging’ remarks

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Most Read