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Report shows racism in BC health care

Report shows racism in BC health care

Indigenous people in BC are exposed to widespread racism that often results in negative experiences at the point of care, inequitable medical treatment, physical harm, even death, the independent review into Indigenous-specific discrimination in the province’s health-care system has found.
Informed by the voices of nearly 9,000 Indigenous patients, family members, third-party witnesses and health-care workers, as well as unprecedented analysis of health data, the review found evidence of pervasive interpersonal and systemic racism that adversely affects patient and family experiences and long-term health outcomes for Indigenous peoples.
The report, “In Plain Sight: Addressing Indigenous-specific Racism and Discrimination in BC Health Care,” concludes that this problem is widely acknowledged by many who work in the system. The report makes 24 recommendations to address what is a systemic problem deeply rooted in colonialism.
“Indigenous people and health-care workers have spoken clearly – racism is an ugly and undeniable problem in BC health care that must be urgently addressed,” said Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, independent reviewer. “This report provides a blueprint for fundamental changes to beliefs, behaviours and systems that are necessary in order for us to root out racism and discrimination and ensure that the basic human rights of Indigenous people to respect, dignity and equitable health care are upheld.”
The review was launched in June by Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, after allegations were made about an organized “Price is Right” game involving guessing Indigenous patients’ blood alcohol levels in hospital emergency rooms. An examination of those allegations found no evidence of an organized game. The review found anecdotal and episodic evidence of multiple activities that resemble these allegations, but none of them could be described as organized, widespread or targeting only Indigenous patients.
“Nevertheless, our review found clear evidence of a much more widespread and insidious problem – a lack of cultural safety and hundreds of examples of prejudice and racism throughout the entire BC health-care system,” Turpel-Lafond said. “That doesn’t mean every Indigenous person who gets health care will experience direct or indirect racism, but it does mean that any Indigenous person could experience it. Many of the accounts we heard were deeply disturbing, had clearly caused significant harm, and created lasting mistrust and fear of the health-care system.”
More than two-thirds of Indigenous respondents said they had experienced discrimination based on their ancestry – and only 16% reported “never” having been discriminated against – while accessing health care. More than one-third of non-Indigenous respondents reported having witnessed interpersonal racism or discrimination against Indigenous patients or their families and friends. Submitted

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