Métis Nation British Columbia wants urgent implementation of Turpel-Lafond’s report

METIS Nation British Columbia (MNBC) on Monday called on the B.C. government to urgently implement all the recommendations found in Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond’s report, “In Plain Sight: Addressing Indigenous-specific Racism and Discrimination in B.C. Health Care.”

MNBC said it originally drew attention to a racist “Price is Right” game allegedly being played in emergency rooms, whereby hospital staff would guess the blood alcohol level of Métis and other Indigenous patients. While the report found no widespread examples of the game being played, it found a number of pressing and more serious cases of mistreatment and discrimination involving Métis people in B.C. while utilizing the health care system.

There was the case of a Métis woman who was treated so poorly by ambulance and hospital staff that two future instances where she had to go the emergency room, she drove herself. The report also described cases of Métis people avoiding, delaying or having difficulty accessing health services during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. These are harrowing and unacceptable experiences that Métis people are facing while using B.C.’s health care system.

MNBC said the B.C. government must act on this report and its 24 recommendations in an expedited timeframe. The report can’t simply sit on the shelf and gather dust. With the one-year anniversary of the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples recently passed, now is the time for the province to move forward with true reconciliation and recognition of MNBC. This includes implementing the recommendation, “that the Ministry of Health establish a structured senior level health relationship table with MNBC, and direct health authorities to enter into Letters of Understanding with MNBC and Métis Chartered Communities that establish a collaborative relationship with clear and measurable outcomes.” The report found that B.C. needs to expand Métis participation in health decision-making and that the expectations of health authorities to engage with MNBC are not widespread or codified. MNBC called on the Ministry of Health and Health Minister Adrian Dix to establish the BC-Métis Nation Health Leadership Table in the first six months of 2021.

MNBC said it has long been woefully underfunded and under resourced. “This report and its recommendations will further serve to put immense pressure on MNBC, due to an identified lack of capacity to respond. While the First Nations Health Authority receives an annual budget of $60 million – with no mandate to care for Métis people – MNBC only receives $200,000 annually to service the health needs of over 90,000 citizens and self-identified Métis across the province. These financial disparities were highlighted in a recent MNBC-produced report, A Tale of Two Nations. If MNBC is to be in a position to adequately work with the Ministry of Health and the various health authorities to implement the recommendations from this report, the B.C. government must commit to providing stable, long-term funding and the necessary resources to provide MNBC with the capacity to respond,” it added.

“The report also found that data collection and reporting of Métis people in relation to experiences in the health care system is inadequate. MNBC looks forward to working with the government and First Nations in the establishment of a B.C. Indigenous Health Officer, with co-developed legislative recognition and authority in the Public Health Act; the creation of an Indigenous Health Representative and Advocate with legislative recognition and authority to provide a single, accessible, supportive, adequately funded resource for early intervention and dispute resolution for Indigenous people who require assistance to navigate, fully benefit from and to resolve problems within B.C.’s health care system including all health authorities, regulatory colleges and other health providers; and the new position of Associate Deputy Minister for Indigenous Health within the Ministry of Health with clear authorities, including supporting the Deputy Minister of Health in leading the Ministry’s role in implementing these recommendations. These three newly created positions in recommendations three, four and 13 must include MNBC in the promotion and hiring panels of these important, influential positions to ensure Métis people remain a focus,” MNBC said.

MNBC said it welcomed the opportunity to move forward with the government as they begin implementing the recommendations in this report and renewing the relationship with the province so that Métis people in B.C. can experience better outcomes in the health care system today – and into the future.

“Metis Nation British Columbia was pleased to work with Mary Ellen Turpel Lafond and the Review Team on this report addressing systemic racism in B.C.’s healthcare system. The Métis Nation needs to be recognized as a distinct people making up 1/3 of the Indigenous population in BC.  The mental health and wellness for Métis people is enhanced when they see the word Métis intentionally and authentically used. By working with MNBC, our citizens see themselves included in provincial and regional policy, planning and strategies. We are seeing some early progress in starting to have leadership meetings with health authorities but have very little human resource capacity to respond at the level we need to for our people. We will need to ensure the Métis Nation is engaged and resourced to participate at the appropriate tables to address the health disparities and gaps we face moving forward,” said Clara Morin Dal Col, MNBC President.

“It was disheartening to read so many stories of mistreatment Métis and other Indigenous people have experienced in the health care system. Emergency rooms and hospitals are places people go as a last resort. Hearing that Métis people were reluctant or afraid to seek out care when they needed it most shows deep-rooted problems in the system. This report is an important first step in recognizing that change needs to happen so that Métis people in B.C. can have equity in treatment within our health care system and receive the same level of care other British Columbians are afforded. I am hopeful the BC government will work quickly to implement the recommendations and work with the Métis Nation in addressing these profound concerns,” added Paulette Flamond, MNBC Minister of Health.

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs support, reach out to the 24 hour/7 day a week Métis Crisis line at 1-833-Metis-BC (1-833-638-4722).