Alberta’s minister of health has ordered an independent third-party investigation into how the province’s health authority responded to a racist act at one of its hospitals.
Tyler Shandro said in a statement Friday that a piece of rope tied into a noose was found taped to the door of an operating room at the Grande Prairie Hospital in 2016.
“In August of 2019, I was first made aware of this incident and was reassured by senior officials that the matter was being dealt with appropriately,” he said.
Shandro added, however, that he recently heard about it again and there are questions about how Alberta Health Services handled the matter in 2016.
“I share their concerns and I am not satisfied that this matter was handled appropriately,” he said.
“Racism and bigotry have no place in our health-care system.”
The Opposition NDP’s deputy leader and former health minister, Sarah Hoffman, said she hadn’t been told about the racism at the time.
“I am shocked and disgusted to learn of the violent, racist incident that occurred at the Grande Prairie Hospital in 2016,” she said in a statement Friday. “If I had been informed, I would have taken swift action.
“My record on confronting racism is clear. In 2017, when two AHS employees used a racial slur against an Indigenous woman, we moved swiftly to dismiss them.”
Hoffman added she’s concerned that Shandro has known about the incident for nearly a year but has not raised it publicly or acted.
Shandro said in his statement that the initial investigation may have been limited by medical staff bylaws that govern how the health region responds to complaints and disciplines staff.
“These bylaws have not been updated in more than a decade,” he said. “Consequently, I have issued a directive requiring AHS to revise their bylaws within 60 days.”
He said he would be introducing legislation next week that would increase the number of public representatives on college councils, hearing tribunals and complaint review committees, which will increase the public’s oversight of health professions.
“These initial steps are only the beginning,” said Shandro.
“The review, which will be made public, will undoubtedly bring further required changes to our attention.”
The Canadian Press
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