September 30 has been designated as a National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. This was one of the 94 recommendations in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report. In BC, this new national statutory holiday will also be a designated holiday to commemorate the history and ongoing trauma caused by residential schools and to honour those who were lost and the survivors, families and communities who continue to grieve.
The release of In Plain Sight, the death of Joyce Echaquan, and the ongoing recovery of children’s bodies on the site of formal residential schools highlight what most of us already know – that Indigenous-specific racism stereotyping and discrimination are widespread in our health system and our communities.
As family doctors, we have a role in addressing systemic racism. We need to use our power and privilege to address the deep-seated racism that harms our patients, our colleagues, our friends and family. It is time for us to do more than reflect, it’s time to play an active role in leading the change we want to see in our health system.
The logistics of this national holiday
The statutory holiday will be observed by federal employees and workers in federally regulated workplaces. Provincial public-sector employers will also be honouring this day. Many public services will remain open but may be operating at reduced levels. However, most schools, post-secondary institutions, some health sector workplaces, and Crown corporations will be closed.
BC’s Employment Standards Act — which lists holidays that businesses must honour by closing or paying overtime wages — has not been unchanged. As a result, private sector employers without applicable collective agreements are not required to observe the holiday; however, you may choose to do so.
For information about how this affects physician billing, please read this news item.