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Investigation launched into alleged racist game played in B.C. hospitals

Investigation launched into alleged racist game played in B.C. hospitals

Sophie Gray

Local Journalism Initiative

Health Minister Adrian Dix hosted an impromptu press conference this morning to address alleged racist actions in emergency rooms at B.C. hospitals that were recently brought to his attention.

Dix described the alleged actions as a game, involving staff in the emergency room at one or more hospitals competing with each other to guess the blood alcohol level of patients of Indigenous ancestry.

“Last night, I was made aware of serious allegations of racist and completely abhorrent practices in an emergency room or emergency rooms in B.C.,” said Dix. “The allegation is that a game is being played to guess the blood alcohol level of patients in the emergency rooms, in particular with Indigenous people and perhaps others.”

The minister went on to describe the alleged actions as “intolerable, unacceptable and racist,” and acknowledging that these alleged actions would affect patient care.

Dix said former justice Marie Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to conduct an independent investigation into the allegations starting Monday. There is no timeline for the completion of this report at this time. 

“I consider these allegations very serious. Of course, we have to address the facts, and that requires an investigation to take place,” said Dix.

He continued to say that the allegations were brought to his attention after First Nations communities expressed concern over experiencing the alleged racist games.

“Should these practices be confirmed, they are unacceptable and racist,” said Dix.

He acknowledged this is a systemic issue many people face in B.C.’s healthcare system. Racism, he said, does exist in the health sector and much more work needs to be done to eliminate it.

Premier John Horgan also issued a written statement addressing the alleged actions, calling them “ugly, anti-Indigenous, racist behaviour.”

The Premier also confirmed the allegations took place at multiple B.C. healthcare facilities. He sternly condemned the alleged actions and pledged his full support to Dix’s work to ensure the details of the allegations are revealed.

“He has my full support to ensure that the details of this case will be revealed and that the voices of anyone who has experienced this racist practice will be heard,” said Horgan. “This will not be swept aside. We will not look the other way when racism is exposed. We will get a full account and changes will be made.”

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