Health care professionals encouraged to contribute to investigation into Indigenous-specific racism

Health care professionals encouraged to contribute to investigation into Indigenous-specific racism

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond provided details about her investigation into Indigenous-specific racism in BC’s health care system at a news conference on July 9.

Turpel-Lafond, a former judge and BC provincial child advocate, was appointed commissioner by Health Minister Adrian Dix to lead an independent investigation after allegations of racism in BC Emergency rooms came to light in mid-June.

Turpel-Lafond has now assembled her investigation team, which includes members with direct clinical experience, knowledge of the health care system and expertise in conducting complex investigations.

She has also established the investigation’s terms of reference.

The team’s work will involve studying data and information, conducting hearings and interviews, and making findings of fact respecting Indigenous-specific systemic racism in BC’s health care system. The investigation will report out on findings and make any recommendations required to prompt necessary improvements. Report(s) will be made to the Minister of Health before Dec. 31, 2020 and will also be made public.

A new Addressing Racism website has been launched to provide details about the investigation and to invite British Columbians to share their experiences, including:

  • A survey to collect and assess the experiences of First Nations, Métis and Inuit people in the health care system; and
  • Email and telephone contacts for anybody with specific experience or knowledge of racism in the health care system to share their stories.

Turpel-Lafond noted that the participation of health professionals is a crucial component of the investigation and acknowledged the immediate support that she has received from BC Health Regulators (BCHR).

BCHR Chair Cynthia Johansen said that BC’s health regulators are united in their concern over these troubling allegations and have committed to co-operating fully with Turpel-Lafond’s investigation.

“We are reminding our registrants of their duty to report this type of behaviour, and to hold themselves and their colleagues to the highest professional standards,” said Johansen. “Normalizing this type of behaviour – or looking the other way when it occurs – is not acceptable.”

Recognizing the potential vulnerability of affected individuals and key informants, and the sensitivity of information collected during the course of this investigation, the terms of reference provide information about how information will be collected to protect the security of the person interviewed and how their confidentiality will be protected.

Registrants who would like to contribute to the investigation can share information via email ( or by leaving a telephone message (call toll-free 1-888-600-3078). More information can be found on the BC Government’s Addressing Racism website.

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