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

Patricia Celan, named Miss Charity seven years ago while a teen living in South Surrey, is now in postgraduate psychiatry training and was recently named Mrs. Canada International 2021. (Contributed photos)
Domestic-violence awareness a focus for former White Rock woman named Mrs. Canada International

Patricia Celan, in postgraduate psychiatry training, earned her first crown in 2013

The peninsula’s Community Christmas Day Dinner at White Rock Baptist Church – seen here in 2019 – has been cancelled for 2020, because of pandemic-inspired limitations on gatherings. (File photo)
Annual Community Christmas dinner ‘just not possible’ this year

Organizers vow that 40 years-plus Semiahmoo Peninsula tradition will return, post-COVID

Sources volunteers face off at the organization’s ‘Enchanted’ gala – one as a fairy and the other as her magic-mirror reflection – held in 2019. (Tiffany Kwong photo)
‘Rising infections’ prompts move to virtual Sources gala

Silent auction, raffle opens to public at 9 a.m. Oct. 30

This year’s annual Lighted Boat Parade has been cancelled. (File photo)
White Rock’s annual Lighted Boat Parade cancelled

COVID-19 cited as main reason for cancellation of popular winter tradition

Strawberry Hill Hall is being renovated and moved to another location on its existing corner lot in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
Surrey’s historic Strawberry Hill Hall being moved a few metres in $1.2M reno project

Childcare spaces coming to corner lot where hall has stood for 111 years

Sooke’s Paul Larouche enjoys gold panning along the Sooke River, looking for small treasures. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
VIDEO: Island man finds niche audience by gold-panning on YouTube

Paul Larouche, 29, with over 215,000 subscribers, opens up about his journey

CBSA. (Black Press Media File)
4 sentenced in B.C. steroid smuggling, distribution ring that spilled into U.S.

Canadian Border Services Agency announced the results of a lengthy investigation it called ‘Project Trajectory’

Search and Rescue Technicians carry a stretcher to the CH149 Cormorant during a 442 Squadron Search and Rescue Exercise in Tofino on February 28. (Photo by: Cpl Joey Beaudin, 19 Wing Imaging, Comox)
Father and son found dead after weeklong search near Pemberton

The father and son had set out for a day of mushroom picking last Thursday

A full moon rises over Mt. Cheam on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)
Rare full moon, Daylight Saving makes for a uniquely spooky Halloween – despite COVID-19

We can’t host costume parties but this weekend is still one for the history books

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

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

Photo courtesy of Correctional Service of Canada.
Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder escapes Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks Thursday (Oct. 29) during a news conference held at Fraser Health office, in video posted to Facebook. (Photo: Government of British Columbai/Facebook)
COVID-19 ‘disproportionately’ affecting Fraser Health: Henry

Health region has about 75 per cent of B.C.’s active cases

Most Read