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Doctors, nurses urged to provide info on racism in B.C. emergency rooms

Last Updated Jul 9, 2020 at 4:38 pm EDT

VICTORIA — A former judge investigating allegations of racism towards Indigenous people in British Columbia’s health-care system is calling on patients, families, doctors and nurses to come forward with their stories.

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond says allegations involving emergency room staff playing a game to guess patients’ blood-alcohol level are disturbing but health professionals should not fear retribution for providing information.

Turpel-Lafond says Indigenous people seeking care are often asked irrelevant questions about whether they are intoxicated or addicted to substances.

She has assembled an investigative team that includes Indigenous professionals with clinical experience and plans to issue an initial report in a few months.

However, Turpel-Lafond says CEOs of health authorities should immediately address allegations of racism and she’ll ask those who didn’t to explain themselves.

She is urging Indigenous people to complete a confidential survey of their experiences and says anyone with experience or knowledge of racism could provide information through email or a 1-800 number.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 9, 2020.

The Canadian Press