Indigenous people lack access to health care because of systemic racism, report says


[Excerpts] On Thursday, Mr. Dix released a data report on the impact of systemic racism in health care, showing that Indigenous peoples have less access to the provincial health care system – a disparity that has widened in the pandemic.

The study “reveals a system that does not provide Indigenous peoples with sufficient and safe access to primary and preventative care, and is therefore skewed toward emergency and specialized treatment,” said the report’s author, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, a former judge who was asked last summer to investigate allegations of racist acts in B.C. hospitals. She concluded that racism experienced by Indigenous peoples leads to avoidance of care, in large part because Indigenous people seek to avoid being stereotyped, profiled, belittled and exposed to prejudice.

She said the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines has to factor in those challenges. “We do know who is deeply at risk and deeply vulnerable [to COVID-19], and it is disproportionately First Nations people,” she told reporters. The study notes that First Nations in B.C. experienced a higher rate of infection than what has been seen in the general population of the province.

Mr. Dix, who will on Friday release an update on the province’s vaccination rollout, would not say on Thursday how far behind B.C. is in meeting its targets for immunization in Indigenous communities.

However, the report comes on the heels of the government’s apology to the Nuxalk Nation, after concerns were raised about the withdrawal of COVID-19 vaccines that had been brought to the remote community in Bella Coola. Mr. Dix reiterated his apology on Thursday, saying it is critical that COVID-19 vaccines are delivered “in a culturally safe way. I think it’s clear in this case that we failed to meet that expectation.”

The first phase of the province’s vaccine distribution plan is supposed to distribute to vulnerable Indigenous populations as well as residents and workers in long-term care homes. But delays in shipments of both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have forced the province to scale back and focus on delivering booster shots to those who have already had their first shot.

“Obviously it means that we’re not able to move down the list of priority as fast as we’d like,” Mr. Dix said.

Ms. Turpel-Lafond’s report, the third in a series, focused not only on the pandemic but on access to preventative care. It found that Indigenous people are less likely to access common cancer detection tests, prenatal screening and pediatric care.

To read more, click on: Indigenous people lack access to health care because of systemic racism, report says


Zero Tolerance of Racism Basic First Step to Ensure Equal Access to Health Care for First Nations people in BC

Nov 30, 2020
[Excerpts] “Métis Nation British Columbia was pleased to work with the Review Team on this report addressing racism in B.C.’s health care system. The Métis Nation needs to be recognized as a distinct people making up one-third of the Indigenous population in B.C”
~ MNBC President Clara Morin Dal Col Métis National Council, National Minister of Health.

Racism against Indigenous peoples is a malignant disease that has been in the health care system in British Columbia since inception. Every person who works in the health care system, in fact every British Columbian, must acknowledge this reality and work together to ensure health care for Indigenous people is equitable and culturally safe and focusses on the needs of the individual, not the attitudes of the system. It is a glaring fact that Indigenous peoples encounter racism on a regularbasis in the health care system and we need an e ective mechanism orcomplaint process to bring the issue to light and have it addressed. First Nations in British Columbia must be protected from all forms of racial discrimination in seeking health care. Racism is not just hurtful wordsor ideas – in health care, it leaves Indigenous peoples su ering withoutproper care. In the moment when you need health care, it is too much of a burden to put on the backs of First Nations peoples, having todeal with this racism. That is not compassionate, it is cruel and painful.”



Fear of racism deters many Indigenous people from seeking medical treatment, says health-care leader

CBC Radio · Posted: Nov 27, 2020
[Excerpt] Indigenous Canadians are avoiding going to the doctor or seeking urgent care in hospitals, says the president of The Indigenous Physicians Association.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact, but there’s also another equally invisible and potentially deadly factor: racism. 

“People are fearing that they will be treated in a racist manner, or not receive the standard of care that a non-Indigenous person would,” Dr. Cornelia (Nel) Wieman, told Dr. Brian Goldman.

The death of Joyce Echaquanwas a wake-up call to the kind of inequity that Indigenous people face as patients in the health-care system, says Wieman, who is also a psychiatrist and senior medical officer at the First Nations Health Authority in Vancouver

Wieman spoke with Goldman, about the Indigenous community’s fear of the health-care system, and her own experiences as an Indigenous doctor and health-care leader.

To read the entire article, click on: Fear of racism deters many Indigenous people from seeking medical treatment, says health-care leader


‘She is only good for sex.’
‘She would be better off dead.’
‘Who does she think is paying for this (healthcare)?’

The nurses made these comments, as they questioned her life choices.  The last comments she heard, as she took her last breaths, screaming for help.

The reason that the hospital staff felt justified for their treatment of her?  She was Indigenous.  She was Atikamekw.  

They did not know they were being filmed.

Did this happen in America?  No.  This happened in Quebec, just yesterday (Sep 28th, 2020).  This is Canada.

It is hard to be optimist in the face of such horrific, ongoing racism.
My thoughts are with Joyce Echaquan’s seven children.  Rest in peace Joyce.   
Kākithaw niwākomākanak (All my Relations),
Kihci Têpakohp Iskotêw Iskwêw (Emily Henry)


Excerpts from https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/racism-in-bc-healthcare-health-minister-adrian-dix-1.5619245

B.C. investigating allegations ER staff played ‘game’ to guess blood-alcohol level of Indigenous patients
Métis Nation British Columbia says game is ‘very pervasive’ but only fraction of the problem

Rhianna Schmunk · CBC News . Jun 19, 2020 

British Columbia is investigating allegations health-care staff in emergency rooms were playing a “game” to guess the blood-alcohol level of Indigenous patients, behaviour officials describe as an overt example of widespread, deep-rooted racism across the field of health.

Provincial Health Minister Adrian Dix made the accusations public during a news conference on Friday, after hearing about the allegations late Thursday.

“If true, it is intolerable, unacceptable and racist,” Dix said.

Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC), the governing body for Métis in B.C., later said health-care staff called the game “The Price Is Right.” Physicians and nurses try to guess the blood-alcohol level of incoming patients they presumed to be Indigenous as closely as they could, without going over. 

Dix declined to identify the hospitals or health authorities being investigated. He would not clarify whether staff involved are suspended or still at work.

If the allegations are true, such behaviour would have “affected profoundly patient care,” Dix said.

Turpel-Lafond [a former judge and longtime children’s advocate in B.C.,] said she is aware of one incident involving “a range of people,” however, at least one health authority in B.C. will be investigated to see how pervasive the “game” is and to possibly review other, similar incidents of racism in the health-care system. She said other health authorities could also be investigated depending on the results of the initial investigation. 

“Clearly, if there’s any workplace in British Columbia where people are playing games at the health or expense of Indigenous people, one can only expect someone in those roles to face severe consequences,” she said.
For the full article, click on: B.C. investigating allegations ER staff played ‘game’ to guess blood-alcohol level of Indigenous patients

Excerpts from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-53116593

Canadian province investigates racist ‘game’ played by hospital staff

19 June 2020
The claims, involving staff in at least one British Columbia hospital, came to light after a community leader filed a complaint on Thursday.

Health Minister Adrian Dix called the allegations “abhorrent” and has hired an independent investigator.

“The allegation is that a game was being played to investigate the blood alcohol level of patients in the emergency rooms, in particular with indigenous people and perhaps others. And if true, it is intolerable and racist and of course (has) affected profoundly patient care,” Mr Dix told a press conference Friday. He did not say if any staff faced disciplinary action. 

The game was allegedly dubbed “The Price is Right”, after the popular game show. Staff lost if they guessed above the real blood alcohol limit. The game was played when indigenous patients were admitted to hospital, but other races may have been targets as well, Mr Dix said.

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, the former Representative for Children and Youth in the province, will lead the investigation.

The complaint was filed by Daniel Fontaine, CEO of Métis Nation British Columbia, after a healthcare worker mentioned the game during a San’yas indigenous cultural safety training session.

2019 report by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer found that eliminating racism would improve cancer outcomes, as patients would be more likely to trust their healthcare providers.

A national report in 2015 called First Peoples, Second-Class Treatment found that racism against indigenous people in the healthcare system contributed to their overall poorer health outcomes, compared to non-indigenous Canadians.

The full article can be accessed here: Canadian province investigates racist ‘game’ played by hospital staff


Racial bias reaches tipping point in Canada’s healthcare system

Racism — and conscious and unconscious biases — have impacted the level of care racialized communities receive.

Communities that have racialized populations have the least amount of services in their neighbourhoods.

In looking at the highest rates of HIV prevalence in Toronto, black communities are over-represented.

Every year, millions of Canadians walk into a hospital or clinic to get treated, but as healthcare professionals themselves will tell you, not everyone gets treated equally. Studies and anecdotal reports have oftentimes demonstrated how racism — and conscious and unconscious biases — have impacted the level of care racialized communities receive.

Imagine walking into a hospital in severe pain, but instead of receiving treatment, you get accused of faking your symptoms to get drugs. For an award-nominated Canadian rapper, it’s a reality he struggled through recently. John River, who’s real name is Matthew John Derrick-Huie, said he slipped through the cracks of the healthcare system, and was forced to wait weeks for an emergency procedure.

“Had I not been black, there was a much higher chance I would’ve gotten better treatment way earlier,” River said. “We have to ask, why did the medical system fail me in this fashion?”

Notisha Massaquoi, a health equity consultant, doesn’t know River or the circumstances surrounding his health, but said that unfortunately, his experience isn’t unique and is part of a challenge in a system ‘fraught with racial bias’.

To read the full article, go to: