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Racist game allegedly played by hospital staff in B.C. 'unacceptable,' say Indigenous health leaders

Last Updated Jun 19, 2020 at 7:41 pm PST


Racist guessing game allegedly played by emergency room doctors, nurses is called 'Price is Right': lndigenous leaders

The allegation arose during a recent training session, when a program participant disclosed the racist game

Indigenous health leaders calling for a public inquiry, changes to the healthcare system, including sensitivity training

SURREY (NEWS 1130) — The racist guessing game allegedly played by emergency room doctors and nurses is called “Price is Right,” according to Indigenous health leaders who are calling for a public inquiry and changes to the healthcare system, including sensitivity training.

The province launched an investigation Friday into allegations of hospital emergency room staff playing a game, guessing the blood-alcohol levels of patients, particularly Indigenous people.

According to a release from Métis Nation B.C. and the B.C. Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres, the allegation arose during a recent training session. Someone at the session said the game of guessing the blood alcohol concentration of Indigenous patients is commonplace among physicians, nurses and other staff.

“The winner of the game guesses closest to the BAC — without going over,” say the leaders from both organizations.

First Nations, Métis, and Inuit patients seeking emergency medical services in British Columbia are often assumed to be intoxicated and denied medical assessments, contributing to worsening health conditions resulting in unnecessary harm or death, they add.

“What is allegedly happening in B.C. hospitals to Métis, First Nations and Inuit peoples is deeply disturbing and must immediately come to an end,” says Daniel Fontaine, chief executive officer for Métis Nation B.C. “We remain committed to work with Provincial Health Services Authority to increase Métis-specific content curriculum to increase the knowledge and understanding of healthcare providers serving Métis people to ensure improved care and culturally safe experiences in B.C.”


Former B.C. child and youth advocate Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, a lawyer and former judge in Saskatchewan, has been appointed to investigate and make recommendations about immediate and long-term next steps.

Fontaine hopes Turpel-Lafond’s report goes beyond just identifying systemic racism, “because we already know that.”

He wants to know which hospital allegedly participated in the game, along with who was involved.

“There remains a lack of will to address systemic and specific racism towards Métis, First Nation and Inuit people,” says Leslie Varley, executive director of the B.C. Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres.

“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 Province of Ontario made sensitivity training mandatory for every employee in the Ontario Public Service in 2016.

B.C. has yet to enforce standardized anti-racism training for health service workers, according to the Indigenous health leaders.

They say B.C. health authorities are inconsistent in their requirements for anti-racism training, despite evidence racism is prevalent within health systems.

RELATED: B.C. launches investigation into ‘abhorrent’ allegations of racism at hospitals

Métis Nation B.C., the B.C. Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres are calling upon the Ministry of Health to accept four recommendations:

  • a public inquiry into Indigenous specific racism in health care in B.C with a focus on hospitals and emergency departments;
  • ensure that all front-line staff are required to take mandatory First Nations, Métis, and Inuit training that results in increased health professional personal accountability in the delivery of safe health care;
  • commit to structural and systemic changes to dismantle indigenous specific racism to ensure culturally safe health care experiences for Indigenous people;
  • ensure that Indigenous governments play a stronger role in the development and implementation of anti-racism programs and training throughout B.C.

“Implementing these recommendations helps address the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action and would signify the beginning of concrete changes within the Province of B.C.’s health system,” say the leaders.

Métis Nation B.C. and the B.C. Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres said the way for B.C. to properly acknowledge National Indigenous People’s Day on June 21 would be to address the longstanding racism concerns of Métis, First Nations and Inuit people in the province.

Premier John Horgan says in a release that the allegations will not be ignored.

“I am outraged by reports of ugly, anti-Indigenous, racist behaviour at multiple health-care facilities in B.C. This behaviour degrades the standards and provisions of healthcare in our province. It cannot stand,” he adds.

“We will not look the other way when racism is exposed. We will get a full account and changes will be made.”

The investigation must be transparent and seek to uncover the extensiveness of the alleged actions, says a release from the First Nations Leadership Council.

“The detestable nature of these allegations is simply inexcusable and reprehensible. Those that have played a role in these games must be held accountable and named. Systemic racism is not only found in Canada’s justice institutions but is prevalent throughout our health care system,” says Terry Teegee, regional chief with the BC Assembly of First Nations.

“We are sickened and deeply angered that medical professionals are playing so-called games with the healthcare and lives of Indigenous peoples,” says Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Union of BC Indian Chiefs.

“Only through systemic change, through ensuring health practitioners are appropriately versed in trauma-informed practices and the legacy of colonization on Indigenous health, will any remedy be delivered.”