Navigating systemic racism in Canadian healthcare

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  • W. TURNBULL says:

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  • Natasha says:

    I am a Caribbean Black Woman who was diagnosed with an Immuno Compromised System, Allergies to Ragweed, Pollen, some trees and plastic (to the point that the Doctors at Sick Kids commented your the first patient diagnosed with an allergy to Plastic. Also developed infections easily. Upon Discharge from Hospital my parents were given strict rules to follow in terms of management with lactose intolerance and infection development. I also had congenital spinal stenosis and heart issues. We were told that I could never get implants of any kind including Orthopaedic and Gynecologic. Should I ever need a pacemaker later on in life that they would have to do rigorous hematology monitoring in case infection develops with implant. My parents were told that they had to make sure all Doctors I see must be told of my health history. Sick Kids Docs made sure all my health information was entered in the Hospital Database so that it could be viewed by any Ontario hospital in case I goto the ER it also lists my allergies. I also face extreme forms of discrimination from white and east indian, middle eastern Docs. Though I will be honest and say I had some pretty darn good Doctors who took their hypocratic oath seriously and they were white. My Family Doctor of 35 yrs retired warned me about the new breed of Doctors coming out of medical school and told me they are very Racist and frequently use the N word like you brush your teeth everyday. Or this ignoramous assessment from a Doctor: I explained to Doctor that I am at risk for developing infection and Im having stomach problems and informed him the ER Doctor said my Kidney is swollen at the tip and that I need to see my Family Doctor, again no further treatment at ER. Er Doctor proceeds to tell me to watch out for watery stool and flank pain and that if it’s not taken care of my Sepsis can come back a condition called Nephrosis and if left untreated you can develop Sepsis. I am in the process of contemplating applying for End of Life because since I am just an depressed, anxiety ridden black woman what sense does it make to even live. I cannot fight this good fight anymore. these doctors think all black people eat is fried and spicy food and trying to suggest that i cut down the spices in the food and i am like what fucking spices are you talking about, I dont eat spicy food just because I am black. Just because I am caribbean doesnt mean we eat oxtail, curry every day. Im tired with these White and East Indian Doctors telling me to cut down the spice, you idiot I dont use alot of spice any way because I have gastic issues as well. I am prepared to die with my kidneys being left untreated. I was left with Severe Sepsis to die in Ontario and we just arrived home from the USA 2019 from mesh removal. American Surgeon told me I had one more to live because I would of passed away in my sleep from Septic Shock and my heart would of stopped beating in my sleep. American Surgeon says I am at risk for Sepsis always coming back and I need to see a Hematologist and I cant get one to see me. Sepsis has three stages: Stage 1-Sepsis, Stage 2: Severe Sepsis 3- Septic Shock Death. I am being left to die and cant find a hospital to help with end of life. 35 000.00 cost for mesh removal and im in such desperate need for follow up care but because I didnt return back to the Ontario Surgeon my name is black listed from receiving medical help. I told the Ontario Surgeon about my health history and explained I develop infections easily, explained all my allergies especially to Polypropylene and Plastic. Mesh is made from Polypropylene its plastic. I never agreed to have mesh and between me and my creator I know the TRUTH and what was discussed and I totally thought I was having another surgery. Which person in their right mind would consent to an implant knowing their fully allergic to the material, logically that makes Zero sense because your putting your life at risk. The Worst thing is that all my medical information and allergies are listed in the Hospital Database and is there to see how the hell did I end up with a piece of plastic inside of me that started to rot immediately. I have had an Urologist give me pain medicine that is known to cause damage to the kidney’s causing them to bleed because I would return to the initial first surgeon, when I tried to explain why he quoted” your crazy and a problem maker we dont like people like you, im not treating you and the medication will make your kidneys blled , he then threw the prescription on the floor and my husband picked it up and left both of us were crying. My pharmacist had me on the phone for 45 minutes asking why the Specialist wrote me a prescription to damage my kidneys and I have kidney stones. Pharmacist said I dont understand why? you shouldnt be taking this medication at all, plus Doctors dont use this medicine anymore. My husband wanted to deck him. He said he had no right to talk to you like that and i thought he would help you. As soon as they enter my name in the hospital database their demeanour and body language changes. They never want to hear about my recent mesh removal surgery that has become a part of my permanent health. I drink two gallons a water every day because I am afraid of dieing of Sepsis. Assisted Dying is the next step but finding the hospital to carry out the procedure is a problem. Hey I have also accepted if die from Sepsis than oh well. one less black lab rat used ( just like they always have used black people for medical experiments) Tuskegee Experiment and Hysterectomy Surgery was performed on Black Women first while they were awake in America and perfected for the rest of the world..SAY NO TO ALL MESH BLADDER AND HERNIA. BLACK PEOPLE ARE ALWAYS MEDICALLY GASLIT and if you go against the broader medical community you will suffer DEATH

  • Maureen Smith says:

    i had two C-section at Woman College and Scrabrough General in Toronto Ontario Canada. I think i was given less drugs. i felt them cutting me open, and when u told them they wanted to say it was in my head. I still have flashbacks. Another instance i had a biopsy done at Scarborough General hospital with them knowing there was nothing in my breast. The Excruciating pain i went through, i could never look are touch that area for months.Thank God the Manfriend help we through the months of Mental Anguish.i still have flashbacks.

  • Lois Nauta says:

    Nurses do not give the wrong medications or the wrong dosages. They are bound by a Code of Ethics.

  • Stephnie Clarke says:

    These issues were a concern back in the 1980’s and 1990’s. My daughter died at the of 17 at HSC due to a medical error as the inquest that was done came back as an accidental death. HSC did issue me a letter admitting that it was medical error on their part. Back then most of the nurses did not know or understood was Sickle Cell was. Also some of the emergency doctors and surgeons had no idea of the seriousness of this disease. There was also a lack of communication from all levels at the hospital. I was back in the time of Dr Nancy Olivieri the Hematologist. In that inquest there were 31 recommendations which some of them were implemented at the hospital. There were also some changes made at the university and colleges for nurses students in regards to Sickle Cell. It has a been a long journey but maybe I can connect with others and share my story. My daughter name is Sanchia Bulgin. Blessings to all.

  • Susan McPherson says:

    Yes I know. It is the same for women who are older. At least, for some women. I suspect people – women – who are well-placed in the community get better treatment. I believe cultural values play a part in this, as one of the first family doctors who really treated me badly was from southeast Asia. He was just starting out in his practice and I thought that in time his attitude would improve. He knew I lived on my own, and had no husband, and of course, was an older woman. In some countries, the caste system and historical practices such as suttee were used on older women when their husband died, so they died with them on the funeral pyre. What ever his problem, and I suspect it was discrimination on the grounds of age and gender, in time things came to a head. He ended up treating me very badly – as though I was going to abuse the Tylenol 2 (with codeine) that I he was allowing me (originally Tylenol 3 at the beginning of the approximately 2 years he was my gp.). He was determine I was going to get a sample tested every month if I wanted to keep taking Tylenol 2. I decided that would be a bad idea because the jar he gave me to provide a sample in didn’t even have my name on it, and I didn’t want to take the risk of it getting mixed up with someone who actually was a drug addict. I took the case to HRTO but they were so protective of him, and playing mind games with me, and I was so unfamiliar with the way the adjudicatr would behave at the hearing that I gave away any control I had of the situation and he walked away scot free, practically. Meanwhile, a specialist he had referred me to became the next abusive brown doctor, along with his staff, who had presumably known about the previous situation with the family doctor. He was even worse, and even though I had proof that he had discriminated against me, the HRTO let him off, after doing everything they possibly could to stop me.

    I suggest that this idea of “systemic racism” be changed to “systemic discrimination on the grounds of race”. It sounds less aggressive and personal. Saying “systemic sexism” doesn’t work. But the r-words – racism and the other one – are so confrontational at this time. Thank you for the opportunity to tell you another side to this story.

  • Christine Brosseau says:

    I too suffered from systemic racism and medical bias in a Canadian hospital. I was neglected so bad and left in agony so long I had prepared to die at home. I was ill treated twice by the medical system. Now do you think I ever want to seek care again at a hospital no. I would rather take my chances. I’m indigenous


Ngozi Iroanyah


Ngozi Iroanyah is a fourth year PhD student at York University in Health Policy and Equity studies. She is also the caregiver of a lovely father who is experiencing the Dementia Journey.

Madi Cyr


Madi Cyr is a Bachelor of Journalism student and former Healthy Debate intern.

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