VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — The province has launched an investigation into allegations of emergency room doctors and nurses playing racist games of guessing the blood-alcohol levels of patients, particularly Indigenous people.
“Last night I was made aware of serious allegations of racist and completely abhorrent practices in an emergency room or emergency rooms in B.C.” Health Minister Adrian Dix said Friday. “If true, it is intolerable unacceptable and racist, and its effect on patient care is intolerable unacceptable and racist.”
Former child and youth advocate Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to investigate allegations and make recommendations about immediate and long term next steps. A lawyer and former judge in Saskatchewan, Turpel-Lafond was appointed B.C.’s first representative of children and youth in 2006.
“She will follow the facts wherever they lead and that is my expectation,” Dix said.
Dix declined to say which hospitals or health regions are involved in the allegations, adding the facts must be determined before any action, including disciplinary action, can be taken.
.@adriandix now addressing “serious allegations” of racism in #BC health system. He says this involves games played in ER to guess the blood alcohol levels of patients.
News conference audio connected after he started talking, so missed where this happened. #bcpoli @NEWS1130
— Marcella Bernardo (@Bernardo1130) June 19, 2020
It is not known how long the alleged incidents are have been going on for.
“All of those facts have not been determined, but there is sufficient information to require this investigation,” Dix said.
He gave no deadline for the investigation, but said the findings will be released upon its conclusion. He said it will be up to Turpel-Lafond to decide if she wishes to release findings throughout the investigation or all at the end.
Dix said he intends to reach out to Indigenous leaders in B.C., including the First Nations Health Council, the First Nations Health Authority, and the First Nations representative on the boards of health authorities to address the fundamental issues involved.
“That work is more important than ever,” he added. “It is beyond dispute that there are people who have suffered in our province from systemic racism in many fields, and healthcare is one of those.”