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‘In Plain Sight’ Report: Systemic Racism in B.C. Healthcare

Dec 18, 2020 |

Last week, the findings of a review into racism, stereotyping and discrimination against Indigenous peoples in the B.C. health care system were presented to the B.C. government. The review, conducted by former judge Dr. Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond and resulting in a report entitled In Plain Sight, is based on consultations with nearly 9,000 people, including 2,780 Indigenous people and 5,440 health care workers. In Plain Sight describes findings of widespread systemic racism against Indigenous peoples in the B.C. health care system.  In particular, 84% of Indigenous peoples described personal experiences of racism and discrimination that discouraged them from seeking necessary care and that reduced access to care, negatively affecting their health. These outcomes reinforce stereotypes and perpetuate the cycle of inequity.

Dr. Turpel-Lafond’s report makes recommendations to improve equity in health care and calls on the B.C. government and the health care system, in collaboration with Indigenous peoples, to remedy the lasting consequences of colonialism and improve accountability for Indigenous-specific racism. The report also calls attention to the need for improved cultural safety in health care and increased Indigenous leadership within health services, regulators and education.

In a statement to the Faculty of Medicine, Dean Dermot Kelleher spoke to some of the specific actions the University of British Columbia and our faculty are taking that align with the recommendations of this investigation, including UBC 23 24 Indigenous Cultural Safety Training, which was developed by the Centre for Excellence in Indigenous Health at the School of Population and Public Health (SPPH), in consultation with Indigenous students, leaders, and organizations. This program focuses on the importance of cultural safety and humility that health care providers must create and sustain in our health care system. Dean Kelleher noted that the Faculty aims to broaden the scope and reach of UBC 23 24 as a “critical and mandatory element in our collective efforts to raise awareness and promote cultural safety in health care delivery for and with Indigenous Peoples.”

The School of Population and Public Health acknowledges that we have much more work ahead of us. That’s why SPPH will be undertaking an environmental scan, led by Dr. Danièle Behn Smith and Dr. Patricia Spittal, to understand our School’s response to the Truth & Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, along with Indigenous-specific provisions in the Faculty of Medicine Strategic Plan and the renewed UBC Indigenous Strategic Plan. This scan is just one of the components of our efforts to create a safe space for Indigenous students, scholars, and professionals to learn and thrive, and to train the health care providers of tomorrow in cultural safety and humility.

As a School and community, we hold the value of equity in health and its underlying social determinants as paramount to our work. We must work to address the systemic racism affecting Indigenous peoples and other racialized groups within our institutions, health care, and society in order to build a future with better health for all.

Read the full report here: