The most recent Unifor webinar on Indigenous issues focused on affecting change in health care settings, with participants discussing systemic issues and how to address them.
“Unifor members working in health care are deeply committed to helping improve the system,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Indigenous Peoples are not receiving the quality of care they deserve, and Unifor is going to do the work to help break the cycle of systemic violence.”
Panelists in the January 19 webinar, a follow-up to one held January 13, included Diane Smylie, Susan Gill, Holly Lane, and Judy Harvey.
Smylie works for the San’yas Indigenous Cultural Safety Training program, a national program that helps health care professionals better deliver culturally safe health care for Indigenous people. She outlined key strategies her organization uses to give health care workers the tools to avoid perpetuating racist and discriminatory practices.
Other panelists recounted examples of the sub-standard care for Indigenous people they witnessed personally in health care settings.
Gill, a National Representative and former health care worker, discussed her experience working in the system and the historical lack of training to prepare non-Indigenous workers for the unique needs of Indigenous patients. She said that the pure lack of Indigenous health care staff in her region is a systemic problem that needs to be addressed.
Lane, a personal support worker and member of Unifor Local 229, echoed the need for greater training. She also said that services, such as on-call interpreters, would help increase the quality of care and comfort for many Indigenous elders.
The discussions were led by Unifor Indigenous Liaison Gina Smoke, who has been overseeing the Turtle Island series for the Education Department. Materials from both webinars are available online for health care workers and other Unifor members.