VICTORIA, B.C. – In British Columbia, Indigenous people are often exposed to widespread racism that, more often than not, results in negative experiences at the point of care, biased medical treatment, physical harm, and even death.

An independent review has discovered this into Indigenous-specific discrimination within B.C.’s healthcare system. Nearly 9,000 Indigenous patients, family members, third-party witnesses, and healthcare workers have informed and lent their voices to the review.

In Plain Sight: Addressing Indigenous-specific Racism and Discrimination in B.C. Health Care discusses the problem widely acknowledged by many who work within the system, including leadership roles.

This review was launched in June 2020 by Minister of Health Adrian Dix, after allegations were made about a “Price is Right” style game involving guessing Indigenous patients’ blood alcohol levels in emergency rooms across the province. After a detailed examination of the allegations, no evidence was found of any organized games taking place.

Over 600 email and phone submissions were sent in and expressed frustration over the treatment and lack of accountability by the health care system. These submissions included patients and negatively stereotyped family members.

The review recommends that the Province establish three new key positions to help provide leadership on the issue. These keys are the following:

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, independent reviewer, says, “It’s critical that all Indigenous people feel safe when getting health care. We know that eliminating racism requires humility, anti-racist mindsets and tools, and human rights approaches. And I recognize that we must take steps to foster a speak-up culture where people can raise and address these issues without retribution. We all have vital roles to play in confronting this historical legacy and creating positive change.”

The In Plain Sight report can be viewed on the B.C. government website.