(Files by Catherine Garrett-MyPGNow)
Indigenous peoples in B.C. have inequitable access to preventative and primary health-care services, perpetuating poorer health outcomes for First Nations, Métis and Inuit populations in the province, an independent report finds.
The final findings from a review into Indigenous-specific racism in healthcare across B.C. was released today (Thursday) by independent investigator Mary-Ellen Turpel-Lafond.
It also found Indigenous people have substantially less access to physician services and less attachment to primary care practitioners.
The data report follows up on “In Plain Sight: Addressing Indigenous-specific Racism in B.C. Health Care” full and summary reports released on Nov. 30.
“Our extensive review of data reveals a system that does not provide Indigenous peoples with sufficient and safe access to primary and preventative care, and is therefore skewed towards emergency and specialized treatment,” Turpel-Lafond said.
“When you combine these factors with the overwhelming evidence of racism in the health-care system – which we explored in depth in our previous reports – it’s not difficult to see why health outcomes for Indigenous peoples are poorer,” she added.
In an attempt to fill the void, the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) has created a ‘Virtual Doctor of the Day.’
However, a full continuum of care and networks of First Nations-led primary care are needed to overcome the serious deficiencies, maintains Turpel-Lafond.
The initial “In Plain Sight” reports offered 24 recommendations to eliminate Indigenous-specific racism and make health care safer and more effective in British Columbia.
This data report builds on those earlier reports and offers baseline measurement of how the system is performing for Indigenous peoples, featuring more detailed breakdowns of the data, including by region.
The data report includes a more comprehensive look at the results of surveys of Indigenous peoples using the health-care system and of B.C.’s health-care workers, as well as the review’s collection of individual submissions detailing experiences of racism in health care.
Together, these represented the perspectives of nearly 9,000 people.
It also features a closer examination of health-system utilization and health outcome data analyzed by the review – data which reflects approximately 185,000 Indigenous individuals.
These data focus on primary care and hospital services and health outcomes, including chronic conditions and mortality, as well as the association of racism with other self-reported health and wellness indicators.
Data examining priority issues, such as the two current public health emergencies and mental health and wellness are included, as are data regarding patient complaints and comments from participants in San’yas Indigenous Cultural Safety training.
“This data report is extremely important in its own right,” Turpel-Lafond said.
“In addition to supplementing our previous reports, it serves as a stand-alone comment on health-system performance for Indigenous peoples in B.C. And it shows there is a great deal of room for improvement.”
Turpel-Lafond says the three reports ‘clearly demonstrate’ the need for immediate efforts to eliminate prejudice and discrimination against Indigenous peoples in B.C.’s health-care system and increase access to culturally safe primary services.
The appointment of an associate deputy minister for Indigenous Health and the formation of the Task Team to implement recommendations were important steps recommended by the review.
Recommendations called for the establishment of an office of the Indigenous health representative and advocate, as well as improvements to complaints processes.
The new representative and advocate positions will receive concerns from people about Indigenous-specific racism in the health-care sector.
Indigenous people wanting to share their experiences of racism and discrimination in the B.C. health-care system may still do so at 1 888 600-3078 or email at: [email protected]