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Update on allegations of racist guessing game in emergency rooms

Racist guessing game report

UPDATE 12:59 p.m.

Former judge and provincial child advocate Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has provided an update on allegations of racist games being played in B.C. emergency rooms.

Turpel-Lafond says the review will take months and she is unlikely to hold another press conference.

"Our task is to address the specific incidents that have been reported, as well as to gauge the levels of systemic and individual racism that Indigenous peoples face when using the health care system in general," Turpel-Lafond said. "I'm glad that the minister called for this independent investigation. Based on the emails, calls and stories we have received so far, it is very much needed."

Turpel-Lafond was appointed on June 19 by Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, after highly disturbing allegations of racism in B.C. emergency rooms were reported. Turpel-Lafond has now assembled the team that will be investigating.

The investigation team includes members with direct clinical experience, knowledge of the health care system and expertise in conducting complex investigations. The review will be conducted in stages, starting with the investigation of troubling allegations that a "game" has been played in hospital emergency rooms, which includes guessing the blood alcohol levels of Indigenous patients. The review will also include a wider look at systemic racism in B.C. health care.

The process will also include a survey of Indigenous peoples in B.C., asking for their experiences in the health care system.
"I urge Indigenous peoples to participate in our survey so that we can get an accurate picture of how broad these problems are," Turpel-Lafond said. "This is your chance to speak."
Anybody with specific experience or knowledge of racism in the health care system can also share information by telephone at 1 888 600-3078 or by email.

Turpel-Lafond will also be canvassing health care workers and she is concerned that racism can often be a barrier to Indigenous peoples accessing health care and that building confidence in the system is extremely important, especially during a pandemic.

"We want this report to lead to positive change," Turpel-Lafond said. "The objective is to examine what is happening and to work to build confidence in a health care system that supports all people in this province."


ORIGINAL 11:52 a.m.

British Columbians will get an update on allegations which have surfaced around a racist guessing game being played in B.C. emergency rooms at noon Thursday.

B.C.'s health minister told the public he was made aware of allegations that health-care workers were guessing the blood-alcohol levels of patients, particularly Indigenous ones, back on June 19.

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been assigned to investigate the allegations and will update the progress of the findings.

Neither the hospital nor the health authority was identified
at the time but it has been indicated the game may have been played at multiple emergency rooms.

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