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B.C.'s health regulators support full investigation into allegations of racism within province's Emergency Rooms

Jun 19, 2020

BC’s Health Regulators were disturbed to learn today of allegations of a racist “game” played in BC emergency rooms. Staff in one or more ERs are alleged to have played a “game” involving guessing the blood alcohol content of patients coming into the ER for help, in particular Indigenous patients.

This unethical and racist behaviour has no place in our society, or in our health care system. This disgraceful behaviour toward individuals who are seeking help within our health care system undermines trust in all health care professionals. We will not tolerate this type of behaviour in our registrants or in our health care system. We extend our full support for Ms. Turpel-Lafond’s investigation.

Our shared mandate is to ensure regulated health professionals deliver qualified, safe, and ethical care to their patients and clients. Everyone has the right to receive the same access to and quality of care, regardless of race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, and age. These requirements are embedded in our codes of ethics, standards of practice, and other guidelines for health professionals in BC.

Cynthia Johansen, BC College of Nursing Professionals Registrar & CEO and Chair of BC Health Regulators (BCHR), said: “A hospital is a place of refuge, and to hear allegations that this space is being polluted with abhorrent guessing games about a person’s health—particularly Indigenous people, against whom health care has a sad history of discrimination—is both upsetting and unacceptable. Colleges will be taking swift action should we receive any complaints about this type of behaviour.”

In partnership with the First Nations Health Authority, BCHR has worked to incorporate cultural safety and humility in the practices of health regulators. In 2017, BC Health Regulators signed the Declaration of Commitment – Cultural Safety and Humility in the Regulation of Health Professionals and have participated in activities to advance the integration of cultural safety and humility within our organizations. However, while progress has been made over the past three years, we recognize that much more needs to be done. We are committed to continuing this important work so that all Indigenous Peoples can receive culturally safe and effective care.