VICTORIA, B.C. – A three-month investigation led by Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond reveals widespread systemic racism against Indigenous people in B.C.’s healthcare system, preventing access to medical treatment and negatively affecting their health and wellness.
“Institutional racism is everywhere, and it cannot be addressed one silo at a time, it must be a whole of government approach. This starts with the Premier and runs through the rest of the executive. It must be a top priority in everything they do, or we will not see the substantive changes that are urgently necessary,” said BC Green Party leader MLA Sonia Furstenau for Cowichan Valley.
“The report reveals systemic racism in the healthcare system, and also identifies that Indigenous people are experiencing racism in education, justice, and the child welfare system,” said MLA Furstenau. “While I am glad to see that every Minister and Parliamentary Secretary has equity and anti-racism foundational principles in their mandates, in order to start dismantling systemic racism we also need direct actionable items with a timeline to hold them to account and ensure action is genuinely being taken.”
“I believe and stand with Indigenous people who have faced racism at the hands of B.C.’s healthcare system,” said MLA Adam Olsen, Saanich North and the Islands and member of the Tsartlip First Nation. “I would like to thank those who were able to participate in this investigation and recognize those who were not able to because of a lack of trust or past trauma. As Indigenous people we know full well that racism in healthcare exists. We live it. We are not surprised at the findings of this report, but we are shocked it has taken so long for government to prioritize this life-threatening problem.”
The B.C. Green Caucus supports all the recommendations made by Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond in her report. In particular, the Caucus calls upon government for the following recommendations:
That the Legislature immediately convene an anti-racism all-party committee focused on systemic racism in government institutions;
That government put forward whistleblower legislation that would apply to B.C.’s healthcare system;
That the position of an Indigenous Ombudsperson be created, to have a formal office where Indigenous people can share their experiences of systemic racism in a way that will be heard, understood, and actioned.
“It is one thing to see anti-racism principles represented in a report or speech, it’s another to see it embodied in daily governance and in every piece of legislation. In my experience as an Indigenous MLA working on legislation like Bill 22, the Mental Health Amendment Act, we have a very long way to go,” said MLA Olsen.
B.C. Green Caucus
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