Alberta health minister orders review into racism after noose found at Grande Prairie Hospital

Alberta Minister of Health Tyler Shandro speaks during a press conference in Calgary on Friday, May 29, 2020. Alberta's minister of health has ordered an independent third-party investigation into how the province's health authority responded to a racist act. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Alberta’s minister of health has ordered an independent third-party investigation into how the province’s health authority responded to a racist act.

Tyler Shandro says in a statement 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.

He says he was made aware of the matter in August 2019 and was assured by senior officials at Alberta Health Services that it was being handled appropriately.

But he adds that he recently heard about it again and is not satisfied with the response.

Shandro says racism and bigotry have no place in the health-care system.

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The Opposition NDP’s deputy leader and former Health Minister Sarah Hoffman says 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.

“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 said she’s concerned that Shandro has known about the incident for nearly a year and has not raised it publicly or acted.

Shandro said in his statement that the investigation may have been limited by medical staff bylaws that govern how a 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.

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“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.”

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