The B.C. Government is investigating alleged racism in British Columbia’s health-care system after reports of a racist game being played by staff and workers.
Adrian Dix, B.C. Health Minister announced at a press conference on Friday that he heard of the apparent racist acts Thursday evening.
“The allegation is that a game was being played to guess the blood alcohol level of patients in the ER, in particular, Indigenous people and perhaps others,” said Dix. “If true, it is intolerable, unacceptable and racist and its effect on patient care is intolerable, unacceptable and racist.”
Dix did not identify where the game allegedly took place or in what health region in the province.
B.C. Premier John Horgan issued a written statement following the allegedly racist incidents.
“I am outraged by reports of ugly, anti-Indigenous, racist behaviour at multiple health-care facilities in B.C.,” said Horgan. “This behaviour degrades the standards and provisions of health care in our province. It cannot stand. There is no excuse. There is no explaining this away.”
Dix has since appointed former justice Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond to fully investigate the allegations.
“Action is required, it’s why having learned about it last night I’ve appointed Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, it’s why we need to continue to take actions on these matters today to both determine the remedies required and the reconciliation required to go forward,” said Dix.
“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,” added Horgan. “If confirmed, this is a heartbreaking example of systemic racism in our province.”
Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond will make immediate and long-term recommendations following her investigation into the matter.
“Health Minister Adrian Dix will work with Indigenous leaders and leaders in Indigenous health. He has my full support to ensure that the details of this case will be revealed and that the voices of anyone who has experienced this racist practice will be heard,” said Horgan. “This will not be swept aside. We will not look the other way when racism is exposed. We will get a full account and changes will be made.”