Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on during a press conference in the rotunda at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Wednesday May 6, 2020. The deaths of two more COVID-19 patients at long-term care homes in B.C. were mourned by provincial health officials Thursday, but they said lives may have been saved by the province’s quick response to the pandemic.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

B.C. launches investigation into allegations of racist blood-alcohol guessing game in ER

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed by the province to look into the allegations

An investigation has been launched by the ministry of health into allegations of emergency room doctors and nurses “playing a game guessing the blood alcohol level of Indigenous patients” and possibly others.

“Last night I was made aware of racist practices in emergency room or rooms,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said during a news conference Friday (June 19).

“If true, it is intolerable, unacceptable and racist.”

Black Press Media has learned that the “game” played by hospital staff was akin to the TV show Price is Right.

Dix announced Friday that Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed by the province to look into the allegations.

When pressed by several reporters, the health minister would not divulge information surrounding any particular hospital or health authority, citing the investigation.

In a separate statement, Premier John Horgan said he was “outraged by reports of ugly, anti-Indigenous, racist behaviour at multiple health-care facilities in B.C.”

He went on to pledge that the allegations will not be swept aside.

“No one should fear discrimination when they need help the most. No one should worry that when they visit a hospital that they will be prejudged and given a lower standard of care,” he said.

“If confirmed, this is a heartbreaking example of systemic racism in our province.”

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

Advocates have been sounding the alarms on discrimination against Indigenous people in Canada’s healthcare system for decades. This includes First Nation, Metis and Inuit patients being turned away for medical care because they are assumed to be intoxicated by health staff across the province, according to the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres and Metis Nation BC.

“There remains a lack of will to address systemic and specific racism towards Métis, First Nation and Inuit people,” said Leslie Varley, BCAAFC executive director.

“We know that our people avoid hospitals because we are afraid of having a discriminatory encounter. This happens to the point where Indigenous people end up in emergency with extreme diagnosis, like cancer.”

The two groups are calling for a public inquiry in Indigenous-specific racism in B.C.’s healthcare system, ensuring proper training for all frontline staff, and ensure Indigenous governments play a stronger role in implementing anti-racism programs provincially.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

BC governmentracism

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

Just Posted

City overcharged South Lakeside residents on water and sewer tax, says Judy Albin

City staff are seeking direction from city council on how to proceed at Tuesday meeting

Witnesses sought in Quesnel River Bridge hit and run

The damage to the bridge is estimated to be over $30,000

Police probe reports that fire alarm didn’t sound during fatal Prince George motel blaze

A suspect was also arrested, but later released pending further investigation

Two arrested after shots fired complaint Monday night at Tyee Lake

Saunderson said RCMP immediately responded and located the suspect vehicle leaving the area

Quesnel RCMP, Search and Rescue respond to paddlers capsized in Quesnel River

A kayaker and canoer ended up in the fast flowing water just after launching

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Baby raccoon rescued from 10-foot deep drainage pipe on Vancouver Island

‘Its cries were loud, pitiful and heartbreaking,’ Saanich animal control officer says

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Windows broken, racist graffiti left on Okanagan home

Family says nothing like this has happened since they moved to Summerland in 1980s

B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’ charged with sex assault of teenage boys

The man, 75, is accused of assaulting teenage boys he met through Coquitlam-area churches

B.C.’s potential deficit $12.5 billion as spending spikes, taxes drop

Finance Minister Carole James gives COVID-19 outlook

Canadians torn on scaling back COVID-19 benefits to save money: poll

Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said they were worried about the size of the deficit

‘Trauma equals addiction’: Why some seek solace in illicit drugs

Part 2: Many pushed into addiction by ‘toxic stress,’ says White Rock psychologist

Most Read