Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in a press conference during the COVID pandemic in Ottawa, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says provinces have to do more work to address racism in the health-care system. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in a press conference during the COVID pandemic in Ottawa, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says provinces have to do more work to address racism in the health-care system. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

VIDEO: Provinces need to address racism in the health-care system, Trudeau says

Minister Miller said feds can use financial leverage over health care to fight anti-Indigenous racism

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed confidence that provinces will join efforts to fight racism in the health-care system, adding he does not want to jump to any conclusions about how the federal government could make sure that happens.

“Right across country, all premiers have condemned racism,” Trudeau said Friday at a news conference in Ottawa.

“There’s still more work to do, obviously, but we are confident that we’re going to be able to make significant improvements in the health care accessed by Indigenous Peoples,” he said.

The issue of anti-Indigenous racism in health care gained new attention from outrage over the treatment of Joyce Echaquan, who used her phone to livestream hospital staff using racist slurs against her as she lay dying in a Joliette, Que., hospital last month.

On Thursday, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said the federal government is ready to use its financial leverage over the health system to fight anti-Indigenous racism there. The provinces are seeking billions more dollars health transfers from Ottawa and Miller suggested adding more money to a health-care system grappling with systemic racism should not be the only solution.

On Friday, Miller said provinces are eager to address systemic racism in the health-care system and “it would be careless to suggest” Ottawa would hold back federal health transfers from the provinces and territories during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“But what we need to do is ensure that when federal money is invested according to its constitutional power, it is done in a fashion that reflects our values and our moral and legal duty to serve Indigenous Peoples and to ensure that they have first-class health care in the best country in the world.”

Miller, federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu and Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett met virtually with about 400 people Friday, including Indigenous leaders and health-care professionals, to discuss experiences of racism and solutions.

Miller said they will reconvene, with an action plan, in January.

Rebecca Kudloo, the president of Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, said the meeting was a good start.

“The barriers to good health care is a problem,” Kudloo said in an interview. “The lack of cultural training for health service providers is a problem. We’re sometimes treated like we don’t have feelings.”

Kudloo lives in Baker Lake, Nunavut, where there is only a health centre staffed with nurse practitioners most of the time. People in her community often need to travel to Winnipeg or Iqaluit to get medical services.

“A lot of times, diagnosis is delayed,” she said.

“If you’re pregnant, you go down usually a month before your due date, leaving your other family and your other kids behind.”

Kudloo said that the government is offering Indigenous people encouraging words but little concrete action.

Bennett said the meeting should remind all institutions that transformative action is expected of them. She said that there is a need for better education, data, surveillance and accountability to stop bad attitudes in the health-care system.

Hajdu said racism is not an accident.

“The system is not broken. It’s created this way,” she said. “The systems and the people in them are incentivized to stay the same.”

READ MORE: Joyce Echaquan’s death highlights systemic racism in health care, experts say

She also suggested the federal government can use its financial leverage as positive reinforcement too.

“When we think about health transfers, often they’re thought of in a punitive fashion, but I think we also have to have the promotion of systemic change as well as the punishment of bad behaviour,” she told a news conference Friday.

Echaquan’s husband Carol Dubé also spoke during the meeting.

“We heard the emotional testimony of a family still living through the shock,” Miller said.

“We wanted to listen to these people.”

———

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

HealthcareRacial injusticeracism

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Stettler town hall. (Lisa Joy/Stettler Independent)
Town of Stettler launches redesigned website

The new website increases user functionality and offers additional features

Larry Clarke
Stettler Reeve Larry Clarke discusses goals for 2021

Despite challenges, projects were completed through 2020

Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw
Alberta eases some COVID-19 restrictions

Salons, barbershops and other personal and wellness services will be open by appointment only

fruit
Diabetes management classes temporarily moving online

AHS program helps participants manage pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes

Lesser Slave Lake UCP MLA Pat Rehn. (Facebook)
Kenney kicks Pat Rehn out of UCP caucus after municipal complaints

Rehn had been criticized by municipal leaders in his constituency

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials says it will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

blessing
Bentley Blessing Pantry continues to faithfully serve the community

‘We just wanted to make everyone aware that we are still here to serve you throughout this coming year.’

A Suncor logo is shown at the company’s annual meeting in Calgary on May 2, 2019. A worker is missing after a dozer broke through ice on an inactive Suncor tailings pond in northern Alberta.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Worker missing after dozer breaks through frozen tailings pond in northern Alberta

The worker was an employee of Christina River Construction

File Photo
‘You took away some real joy,’ Sylvan Lake Winter Village turned off after vandalism

Sometime during the night of Jan, 12 the light display at the pier was vandalized and damaged

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID clarity: Feds say 42-day gap for 2-dose vaccines OK as provinces race to immunity

‘Realities on the ground’ means that provinces, territories will have difficult choices to make

(Pixabay photo)
Alberta surgeon who hung a noose in a hospital found guilty of unprofessional conduct

College of Physicians and Surgeons says sanctions will be determined at a later hearing

Most Read