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: 

Racial bias reaches tipping point in Canada’s healthcare system


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