Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, has issued the following statement regarding recent allegations of racism in the health-care system:
“Last night, I was made aware of serious allegations of racist and completely abhorrent practices in an emergency room or emergency rooms in B.C. If confirmed, this conduct is beyond unacceptable. The allegation is that a game was being played to guess the blood-alcohol level of patients in emergency rooms, with Indigenous peoples and perhaps others.
“If this is true, it’s intolerable, unacceptable and racist. Actions like this profoundly affect patient care. This requires, in my view, an immediate and swift response.
“I contacted Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond and asked her to lead the investigation of this issue. I think she has the credibility to do that and will do an excellent job. Foundational to our ongoing work of reconciliation are the voices of Indigenous leaders.
“I consider these allegations to be very serious and we have to assess the facts, and that requires an investigation to take place. And I know we must also take action.
“As an independent investigator, Ms. Turpel-Lafond will work to determine the facts of these specific allegations. We need to get to the root of these problems, and that begins with an understanding that racist attitudes and actions have a real and devastating impact on health outcomes, creating trauma that can affect generations. She will help determine the prevalence of these attitudes and actions at a systemic level in our health-care system.
“Everyone who comes to our hospitals deserves and should be able to expect access to respectful and culturally safe care.
“We are committed to continuing the work and engagement that brought these reports forward, and will be working together with Indigenous health and community leaders on next steps.”
Visit the San’yas San’yas Indigenous Cultural Safety Training developed in B.C. and used across Canada at: http://www.sanyas.ca/
A backgrounder follows.