Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond provides update to In Plain Sight report


Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, along side Health Minister Adrian Dix, provided an update to her report, In Plain Sight: Addressing Indigenous Racism in B.C. Health Care.

Turpel-Lafond, a former judge, was appointed to investigate anti-Indigenous racism in British Columbia’s health care system. The investigation was in response to allegations that hospital emergency staff were playing “games” where they would try to guess the blood-alcohol level of Indigenous patients.

While Turpel-Lafond’s investigation team was not able to find evidence to substantiate those specific allegations, they were able to uncover evidence of prejudice including "extensive profiling of Indigenous patients based on stereotypes about addictions."

Updated data report released

The updated report includes comprehensive data gathered during Turpel-Lafond’s 2020 investigation.

The data report covers health disparities for Indigenous communities relating to child and maternal health. Her initial investigation analyzed health outcomes of approximately 185,000 First Nations and Métis patients, interviewed 150 people and surveyed 2,780 Indigenous people and 5,440 health workers. The survey found 84 per cent of Indigenous respondents reported discrimination in health care, an issue which disproportionately affected Indigenous women and girls.

Trupel-Lafond concluded that the evidence shows that Indigenous people in B.C. are receiving services that is skewed away from primary, preventative care, and pushes them to secondary or tertiary care and treatment.

Turpel-Lafond has also called appointment of an Indigenous Health Officer in BC.

Immediate steps being taken

During the conference, Health Minister Adrian Dix, commented on several immediate steps being taken by the provincial government to better meet the recommendations laid out in Turpel-Lafond’s report.

The immediate steps include:

  • Providing funding for 5 new Indigenous health liaisons positions to be added in each authority as well as Providence Health Care
  • Each health authority board will now have at least two Indigenous members
  • The email and telephone line to report issues of racism and share experiences will remain open
  • Dawn Thomas has been appointed as the new associate Deputy Minister of Indigenous Health

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