Indigenous people in BC are 75% more likely to end up in ER, report finds

Many Indigenous people in BC do not have access to family doctors, primary healthcare services
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Indigenous people living in British Columbia do not have equal access to preventive medical care and face high levels of racism within the healthcare system, according to a recent report.

The report, which was released by former children’s commissioner Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond earlier this week, provides disturbing information into the systemic racism of Indigenous people in the province.

It suggests that Indigenous people are 75 percent more likely to end up in the emergency room than non-Indigenous residents in BC.

The report also revealed that Indigenous people in BC tend to have life-long poorer health outcomes due to lack of access to primary care.

The study analyzed data submitted by over 600 Indigenous people into their experiences with the system, stating that “many cases were highly disturbing.”

In a news conference earlier this week, Turpel-Lafond stated that “when you combine these factors with the overwhelming evidence of racism in the healthcare system … it’s not difficult to see why health outcomes for Indigenous peoples are poorer.”

Former judge Mary Ellen Tupel-Lafond spoke at a news conference Thursday about the report. (Photo: Courtesy of Mike McArthur/CBC)

“The healthcare system in BC is a much different experience if you are an Indigenous person than if you are a non-Indigenous person,” she added.

The report was conducted after allegations were made in June 2020 about a game being played in some BC hospitals where healthcare workers were “guessing blood alcohol levels of Indigenous patients.”

Upon the allegations, a Review Team was assigned to investigate.

The Review found that “widespread racism has long been known by many within the healthcare system,” adding that some “in positions of authority” were also aware. 

The findings suggest that the racism in BC hospitals has resulted “in a range of negative impacts, harm, and even death.”

The report added that there is a “need for immediate, principled and comprehensive efforts to eliminate prejudice and discrimination against Indigenous peoples,” concluding that these actions are “essential if we aspire to an accessible and effective health care system.”

The full report, released in November 2020 and titled “In Plain Sight” can be found here.

 

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