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

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

Comox Valley medical clinics are all open, including the availability to book face-to-face care (i.e. for a physical examination) as per your clinic’s protocol (most clinics operate a “virtual care first” policy). ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
Northern Health launches virtual primary care clinic

Northerners without a family physician or nurse practitioner will now have access to primary care

Demonstrators lined Hwy 16 May 5 to mark the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. (Deb Meissner photo)
VIDEO: Smithers gathering marks Red Dress Day honouring missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls

Approximately 70 people lined Hwy 16, drumming, singing and holding up placards

“Skeena,” by John Hudson and Paul Hanslow is one of five fonts in the running to become the default for Microsoft systems and Office programs. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Font named after Skeena River could become the next Microsoft default

One of the five new fonts will replace Calibri, which has been Microsoft’s default since 2007

The road to Telegraph Creek (Hwy 51) was closed April 15 due to a washout. On May 4, the road was opened to light-duty passenger vehicles during specific times. (BC Transportation and Infrastructure/Facebook)
Telegraph Creek Road opens for light-duty vehicles

Road has been closed since April 15 due to a washout

Gitxsan Nation extends fishing ban for non-Indigenous permit holders indefinitely . (Photo courtesy, Travis Murphy)
Gitxsan Nation extends ban for non-Indigenous fishing permit holders across their territory

The move comes after the province backed away from ongoing discussions with Gitxsan chiefs and DFO

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

A map of Huu-ay-aht-owned forestry cutblock. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
B.C. First Nations restrict access to territory in wake of forestry standoffs

Huu-ay-aht set up checkpoints after heated and dangerous incidents on southwest Vancouver Island

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a ‘person of interest’ in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
RCMP identify ‘person of interest’ in Kootenay National Park suspicious death

Police are looking for Philip Toner, who was known to a woman found dead near Radium last week

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

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Thompson (11) during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Vancouver Canucks see NHL playoff hopes dashed despite 3-1 win over Winnipeg

Montreal Canadiens earn final North Division post-season spot

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add six seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation wants ‘massive change’ after its 3rd police shooting in less than a year

Nuu-chah-nulth woman recovering from gunshot wounds in weekend incident near Ucluelet

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Most Read