September 30, 2020
MONTREAL—Unifor condemns the treatment of Joyce Echaquan as she lay dying in a Joliette, Quebec hospital and says that it belays the deeply systemic anti-Indigenous racism in Canadian health care.
“Joyce’s pain brought me to tears. Her video was a horrible reminder of the racism Indigenous peoples face daily in the Canadian health care system,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “This is not an isolated incident. Indigenous families from coast to coast to coast can share similar stories of disrespect and ridicule in care.”
Several reports have documented the racial discrimination and bias against Indigenous peoples in the health care and social services systems, leading to negative health outcomes and greater risk of premature death. The experience of Indigenous Canadians has bred mistrust in the system, further compounding the impact of inadequate care.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report made recommendations specific to health care providers, including a call to increase the number of Aboriginal professionals in the field, cultural competency training for all health care professionals, and education about the history of Aboriginal health issues in the medical curriculum.
“There is no excuse for the treatment Joyce Echaquan received at the hands of those trusted to provide care,” said Renaud Gagné, Unifor Quebec Director. “Premier Legault must publicly acknowledge that this treatment is the result of systemic anti-Indigenous racism and commit to implementing Viens report recommendations. There is no time to waste.”
Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing more than 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.
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