Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in a press conference during the COVID pandemic in Ottawa, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says provinces have to do more work to address racism in the health-care system. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in a press conference during the COVID pandemic in Ottawa, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says provinces have to do more work to address racism in the health-care system. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

VIDEO: Provinces need to address racism in the health-care system, Trudeau says

Minister Miller said feds can use financial leverage over health care to fight anti-Indigenous racism

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed confidence that provinces will join efforts to fight racism in the health-care system, adding he does not want to jump to any conclusions about how the federal government could make sure that happens.

“Right across country, all premiers have condemned racism,” Trudeau said Friday at a news conference in Ottawa.

“There’s still more work to do, obviously, but we are confident that we’re going to be able to make significant improvements in the health care accessed by Indigenous Peoples,” he said.

The issue of anti-Indigenous racism in health care gained new attention from outrage over the treatment of Joyce Echaquan, who used her phone to livestream hospital staff using racist slurs against her as she lay dying in a Joliette, Que., hospital last month.

On Thursday, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said the federal government is ready to use its financial leverage over the health system to fight anti-Indigenous racism there. The provinces are seeking billions more dollars health transfers from Ottawa and Miller suggested adding more money to a health-care system grappling with systemic racism should not be the only solution.

On Friday, Miller said provinces are eager to address systemic racism in the health-care system and “it would be careless to suggest” Ottawa would hold back federal health transfers from the provinces and territories during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“But what we need to do is ensure that when federal money is invested according to its constitutional power, it is done in a fashion that reflects our values and our moral and legal duty to serve Indigenous Peoples and to ensure that they have first-class health care in the best country in the world.”

Miller, federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu and Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett met virtually with about 400 people Friday, including Indigenous leaders and health-care professionals, to discuss experiences of racism and solutions.

Miller said they will reconvene, with an action plan, in January.

Rebecca Kudloo, the president of Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, said the meeting was a good start.

“The barriers to good health care is a problem,” Kudloo said in an interview. “The lack of cultural training for health service providers is a problem. We’re sometimes treated like we don’t have feelings.”

Kudloo lives in Baker Lake, Nunavut, where there is only a health centre staffed with nurse practitioners most of the time. People in her community often need to travel to Winnipeg or Iqaluit to get medical services.

“A lot of times, diagnosis is delayed,” she said.

“If you’re pregnant, you go down usually a month before your due date, leaving your other family and your other kids behind.”

Kudloo said that the government is offering Indigenous people encouraging words but little concrete action.

Bennett said the meeting should remind all institutions that transformative action is expected of them. She said that there is a need for better education, data, surveillance and accountability to stop bad attitudes in the health-care system.

Hajdu said racism is not an accident.

“The system is not broken. It’s created this way,” she said. “The systems and the people in them are incentivized to stay the same.”

READ MORE: Joyce Echaquan’s death highlights systemic racism in health care, experts say

She also suggested the federal government can use its financial leverage as positive reinforcement too.

“When we think about health transfers, often they’re thought of in a punitive fashion, but I think we also have to have the promotion of systemic change as well as the punishment of bad behaviour,” she told a news conference Friday.

Echaquan’s husband Carol Dubé also spoke during the meeting.

“We heard the emotional testimony of a family still living through the shock,” Miller said.

“We wanted to listen to these people.”

———

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

HealthcareRacial injusticeracism

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

Just Posted

Kelowna International Airport. —Image: Capital News file
Williams Lake medevac flight encounters drone at Kelowna International Airport

The airport is a no-drone zone to keep aircraft safe at all times

Williams Lake Community Policing Chair Baldish Singh Sunner. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake Community Policing request for increased funding denied

Council voted 4 to 3 in favour to keep it at $15,000 for one-year agreement

A sign indicating a COVID-19 testing site is displayed inside a parking garage in West Nyack, N.Y., Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. The site was only open to students and staff of Rockland County schools in an effort to test enough people to keep the schools open for in-person learning. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
4 more deaths, 54 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

This brings the total to 66 deaths in the region

Interior Health is reporting the COVID-19 outbreak at Cariboo Memorial Hospital is now up to 13 staff. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
46 more COVID-19 cases linked to Cariboo Chilcotin community cluster: Interior Health

Cariboo Memorial Hospital outbreak now at 13 staff members

Canim Lake Band remains in lockdown. (Martina Dopf photo)
Canim Lake Band grieves loss of second Elder due to COVID-19

Elder, who lived away from home, was ‘matriarch, a fierce protector’, Chief says.

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C, Tuesday (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Kamloops hospital grows to 66 cases

A majority of cases remain among staff at Royal Inland Hospital

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

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at B.C. legislature on the province’s mass vaccination plan for COVID-19, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
COVID-19 quarantine not an option for B.C., John Horgan says

Apres-ski parties increase risk, not interprovincial travel

Worker at Swartz Bay terminal on Monday, January 20, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Former BC Ferries employee alleges he was fired because of his race

Imraan Goondiwala has been granted a BC Human Rights Tribunal hearing

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker have been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s Civil Emergency Measures Act for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
B.C. couple who travelled to Yukon for COVID vaccine ineligible for 2nd dose until summer

Health officials planning new measures to ensure people verify where they live before inoculation

(File)
Mask dispute in court leaves Vancouver cop with broken leg

Man allegedly refused to put on a mask and resisted arrest

(Kraft Dinner/Twitter)
Kraft Dinner launches candy-flavoured mac and cheese just in time for Valentine’s Day

Sweet and cheesy treat will be here just in time for the cheesiest holiday of the year

Most Read