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B.C. nurse suspended for racially discriminatory comments

The nurse was disciplined for comments about sterilization of First Nations women and about a Black co-worker's hair.
nurse pocket
A Vernon nurse has been suspended for racialized comments in the workplace.

A Vernon nurse has been suspended for five weeks for comments about sterilization of First Nations women and about a Black co-worker's hair.

In a June 23 discipline consent agreement with Barbara Liesch, the B.C. College of Nurses and Midwives characterized the words as “discriminatory and derogatory comments in the workplace.”

A college inquiry committee said the practice issues occurred from March to June 2021 in a First Nations community.

The decision said Liesch had been asked to complete six remedial courses but more than seven weeks later, had not  begun the coursework.

Now, she has voluntarily agreed to a five-week suspension, a six-month limit prohibiting her from being in a supervisory position and a four-month workplace mentorship focused on communication, remedial education on anti-racism, and sensitivity training. 

In November 2020, Health Minister Adrian Dix released findings from an independent review led by Dr. Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, into the extent of Indigenous-specific racism in B.C.’s health-care system.

Dix said the findings would help address systemic racism in the health-care system and root out its toxic effects on people and communities.

That in turn led to an apology to the Indigenous people and communities who have experienced racism in the health system from the leaders of B.C.’s four largest health regulatory colleges.

The B.C. College of Nurses and Midwives is one of 18 regulatory bodies empowered under the Health Professions Act to regulate health professions in the province. It regulates the practice of four distinct professions: nursing, practical nursing, psychiatric nursing and midwifery. 

Similar legislation in other self-regulated areas such as the legal and notary public professions also allow citizens to know about discipline issues in the public interest.

“The inquiry committee is satisfied that the terms will protect the public,” the decision said.

jhainsworth@glaciermedia.ca

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