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Does the AHS Favour White Job Applicants?

Another incident of racism looms over Alberta Health Services

Racism makes about as much sense as pepper on ice cream. If pepper on ice cream is your thing, good for you—but don’t subject others to your poor taste. That goes for both food and racism. 

With this in mind, Alberta Health Services (AHS) has left a bad taste in the mouths of many. 

According to emails, Dr. Ellen Toth has made several racist remarks toward physicians. And get this: she’s the administrator for AHS. 

That means she’s responsible for making sure Indigenous communities get proper access to doctors.

Toth shared a locum doctor’s application to the Indigenous Wellness Core program with her colleagues. 

In this document, she commented that the applicant was likely brown. Toth also wrote that she would speak with the applicant to see if they had a bad accent.

Since then, Toth has issued an apology, if you can call it that.

In her apology, Toth states that her innate racism should not be a surprise given her blue eyes and origin. 

Is Toth telling us she’s a Nazi? Is that what we’re supposed to take away from this?

What was the AHS’s response? An internal investigation and a slap on the wrist. 

AHS isn’t saying whether they will discipline her or not. Instead, the AHS says that this is a private human resource matter. 

Reading Toth’s post on the Alberta Doctors’ Digest, her recent comments may come as a surprise to some.

“I have had the privilege of working with other dedicated colleagues who find professional and personal fulfilment by serving, caring for and providing quality health care to Alberta’s Indigenous peoples, on their reserves,” wrote Toth.

To others, this is just another day at AHS. In 2016, a Grande Prairie surgeon taped a noose to the door of an operating room. This was intended to convey a message to a Black surgical assistant.

Shortly after, two AHS employees were fired for calling an Indigenous school principal a racial slur in 2017. It wasn’t until 2021 that AHS released its Anti-Racism Position Statement. This statement acknowledges that racism, discrimination, and intolerance exist within AHS.

The Anti-Racism Advisory Group also provided the AHS with 36 recommendations to improve inclusion and equity. While the AHS has accepted these recommendations, there is no timeline for when they will be put into place.

AHS clearly has no plans to change. Either that, or addressing racism is at the bottom of their to-do list. 

If you are a person of colour looking for a job at AHS, you may want to consider applying elsewhere.

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