Quebec’s largest hospital network says it will implement the 10 recommendations made in a comprehensive report on systemic racism – but it stopped sharing the 91-page document that allegedly contains troubling staff reports.
Two years after the McGill University Health Center commissioned a report looking at racism, equity, diversity and inclusion, a summary of the final document was presented to the hospital network board on Friday morning.
It called for more and better training on justice, diversity and inclusion, recognition of the existence and history of indigenous peoples, and a system for reporting incidents of discrimination, racism and “prejudice of all kinds”.
The report was prepared by a committee co-chaired by two board members, Dr. Anita Brown Johnson and Seeta Ramdass.
Issues highlighted in the report’s summary included a lack of ethnic diversity in leadership and management positions, instances of biased treatment of patients with visible ethnicity, and an “inappropriate and derogatory style of communication towards these patients”.
The results come from a survey shared with 16,000 employees at the institution. Almost 1,000 employees took part.
Two in five respondents identified as a member of a minority ethnic group, and a majority said they were concerned about systemic racism and prejudice in the institution.
The report will be published as soon as it is translated into French.
‘Let us know when it’s safe’
Nakuset, executive director of the Montreal Native Women’s Shelter, said she discouraged Indigenous people from seeking treatment at the MUHC because she and her colleagues had heard of the number of cases of anti-Indigenous racism.
She said the recommendations were “great” but called for a timeline for their implementation.
“Anything mentioned will take time, so let us know when it’s safe to go,” she said in an interview on Friday.
Nakuset also said the training should be accompanied by some sort of examination of what people retain.
“We’ve seen a lot of training where people just seem to listen to a facilitator and then walk away and take it or not,” she said.
dr Pierre Gfeller, President and Chief Executive of the MUHC, said the hospital network’s management team is tasked with ensuring the recommendations are implemented.
“[We] will also do more to ensure underrepresented groups have equal access to jobs and advancement opportunities, and a secure reporting system to address any issues of discrimination, racism and prejudice,” Gfeller said.
In an emailed statement, spokeswoman Gilda Salomone said some participants agreed to be interviewed “and were able to share their perspectives and lived experiences, some of which are disturbing. They have been heard and must be taken seriously.”
According to reports from Montreal Gazette journalist Aaron Derfel, who received a draft of the report, a black employee reported being called the n-word and beaten “multiple times” by a manager who was not disciplined after the incident was reported to him had been Human Resources.
Another report, reported by the Gazette, recalled the mistreatment of an indigenous woman during childbirth.
Nakuset said she knew within the last month of an Indigenous mother whose child was taken away from childcare immediately after birth.
“We have bad feedback about this hospital,” she said.
CBC could not independently verify the allegations.
The 10 recommendations are as follows:
- Make diversity, unconscious bias and cultural safety training mandatory for all employees.
- Developing equal opportunity, diversity and inclusion strategies that ensure cultural representation in the recruitment and promotion of staff from visible minorities, marginalized origins or underrepresented communities.
- Create an anonymous reporting system to address issues of discrimination, racism and prejudice of all kinds.
- Establish an office or officer for equity, diversity and inclusion.
- Recognize tribal peoples by including a land recognition statement on the MUHC website and adopting Joyce’s Principle, a set of measures to improve health care for tribal peoples approved by the Atikamekw Nation Council following the death of 37-year-old Joyce Echaquan were drafted in 2020.
- Strengthen cultural security.
- Improve accessibility and housing for people with disabilities.
- Collect sociocultural data.
- Integrate equity, diversity and inclusion values and initiatives into MUHC’s strategic plan.
- Call on the Quebec Department of Health to facilitate an Indigenous-led review of Indigenous cultural sensitivity training.