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

"We are looking seriously at the spread and determining what our next steps should be," says Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, as the daily number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb.
427 new COVID cases is highest in Alberta ever

Central zone has 126 active cases of COVID-19

100 Women Who Care make a donation to Sylvan Lake Food Bank and Bethany Care Centre. Photo By Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News
100 Women Who Care donate to four Sylvan Lake groups

The Food Bank, Bethany Sylvan Lake, Community Partners and the Library all received a donation

RCMP. (Black Press File Photo)
Calgary man dies in two-vehicle collision near Sylvan Lake

A semi truck collided with a SUV just east of Hwy. 781 on Hwy 11.

Shaelynn Decock and her dog Taco, who has been missing since Aug. 26. Photo Submitted
Sylvan Lake woman looking for closure for her stolen dog

Shaelynn Decock says it has been two months since she last saw her dog Taco

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw updates media on the Covid-19 situation in Edmonton on Friday March 20, 2020. nbsp;Alberta is reporting it's highest daily number of COVID-19 cases, with 364 new infections. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta confirmed 323 COVID-19 cases Tuesday

Central zone active cases at 145

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives for an announcement at a news conference in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020.	Kenney is isolating at home after one of his ministers tested positive for COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Alberta premier tests negative for COVID-19 but will isolate for a week

Kenney said he will isolate until Oct. 29 and, in the meantime, work from home

JJ Collett Natural Area Foundation held its AGM on Oct. 19 at the Ponoka Legion. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
De-listing Alberta parks creates ‘risk’ for coal mining: CPAWS

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society speaks at JJ Collett AGM

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Temporary COVID-19 testing sites coming to Wetaskiwin and Ponoka

The Wetaskiwin location will open Oct. 23, 2020 and the Ponoka location will open Oct. 29.

ACC President and CEO Ken Kobly spoke to Ponoka Chamber of Commerce members over Zoom on Oct. 20. (Image: screenshot)
Alberta chambers are ‘411’ to members, government: ACC president

Changes to government supports, second wave and snap election

Smartphone showing various applications to social media services and Google. (Pixabay photo)
National media calling for level playing field with Google, Facebook

In Canada, Google and Facebook control 80 per cent of all online advertising revenues

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
One crisis after another for Trudeau since last federal election one year ago

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis

Alberta's provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Monday, July 6, 2020. Advisers are reportedly recommending Alberta's kindergarten to Grade 4 arts and social studies curriculum remove all references to residential schools because it's "too sad" for young children. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Advisers suggest Alberta students not learn about residential schools before Grade 4

Documents suggest children younger than Grade 4 are too emotionally vulnerable to learn about residential schools

Most Read