Volume 11 | No. 3 | May / Jun 2023 query_builder 3 minutes

Registrar’s message: an update on our progress to address Indigenous-specific racism in the health-care system

Dr. Heidi Oetter


The College has made strides towards becoming anti-racist and supporting the health professionals we regulate to do the same. This ongoing work is guided by Indigenous Elders and professionals, the recommendations from the In Plain Sight report, and legal and ethical requirements. The College also has a close and positive working relationship with First Nations Health Authority and often collaborates on initiatives to promote system change, such as the recent review of the complaints process.

A significant part of the complaints process review was the establishment of an Indigenous Advisory Panel, comprised of First Nations and Métis public members and physicians. The review was completed in February of this year, resulting in many positive recommendations to ensure the complaints process is culturally safe and accessible. These recommendations were endorsed by the Board at its meeting in May, and more information on our implementation plan will be shared shortly.

This past year, with our full support and endorsement, 11 other health regulators adopted the Indigenous Cultural Safety, Cultural Humility and Anti-racism practice standard that we developed in collaboration with the BC College of Nurses and Midwives. Now, an additional 28,000 health professionals in BC can reference clear expectations to eliminate Indigenous-specific racism and foster culturally safe care in their practice.

Additionally, the College’s two accreditation programs (Diagnostic Accreditation Program and Non-Hospital Medical Surgical Facility Accreditation Program) developed standards to set clear expectations for providing culturally safe and anti-racist care for Indigenous patients in College-accredited health-care facilities.

One of the commitments we made two years ago was to establish clear accountabilities for cultural safety and humility at our leadership tables. The College currently has three Board members who identify as Indigenous, including two appointed public members and one physician member, and three additional members who identify as Indigenous on its statutory committees:

Complaints and Practice Investigations – Inquiry Committee

  • 3 members

Drug Programs – Prescription Review Panel

  • 2 members

Patient Relations, Professional Standards and Ethics Committee

  • 1 member

Along with other BC Health Regulators (BCHR), the College is supporting a new Indigenous community of practice where Indigenous board and committee members from all BCHR colleges are invited to meet and provide support to each other while recognizing their unique positions on regulatory boards and committees.

This past year, the College library curated online reading lists on race and health equity and trauma-informed care that provide access for registrants to current clinical guidance. The library also drafted a First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Matters in the Library action plan to implement reconciliation, following many of the recommendations of the Canadian Federation of Library Association in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report and in the Calls to Action. College librarians have joined other BC librarians and library technicians to form a special interest group on advancing reconciliation in BC health libraries.

Led by our records, information and privacy team, the College has formed an inter-departmental working group to ensure we manage the collection, description, archiving, and potential access to physical, textual, and audiovisual material related to our reconciliation activities, including artifacts and gifts presented at Indigenous ceremonies where we have participated.

I am grateful to College board members and staff, our many health partners, and other leaders who continue to demonstrate their support for this important work, and to our Indigenous teachers who have shown such willingness to guide us on our path towards dismantling racism in our colonial health-care system.

Heidi M. Oetter, MD 
Registrar and CEO

Comments on this or any other article published in the College Connector can be submitted to the communications and public affairs department at communications@cpsbc.ca.