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FSIN Vice-Chief Lawrence Joseph agreed that, "If a First Nation individual signs the form it allows the government to recover any medical history or current files from birth to death according to many First Nation Health Technicians. As it stands, there are too many vague terms in this whole purposed process of accessing medical records from our First Nation peoples."
Up to this point, the Minister of Health, Honourable Anne McLellan and Health Canada officials are not releasing the required information behind the NIHB over to the FSIN, AFN and other First Nation regional organizations. First Nation organizations are finding it difficult to effectively respond to Health Canada's NIHB with their own position papers due to the restricted departmental policy, protocol procedures and access to specific information.
The federal government has claimed that there are a high proportion of First Nation people who are abusing the medical system by overuse and abuse of pharmaceuticals; therefore according to government officials, a new tracking and monitoring system needs to be established and implemented as soon as possible to stop this "apparent misuse and abuse of pharmaceuticals."
The AFN and the FSIN have publicly strongly opposed this proposed legislation. It is also a misrepresentation and protection of the Treaty Right to Health, but more importantly, a direct violation of the Treaty Six "medicine chest clause."
Last summer on August 13, 2002 the Chiefs of Saskatchewan passed a Resolution at their Annual Summer FSIN Legislative Assembly referenced as the Non-Insured Health Benefit Consent Form. The resolution pointed to specific strategies/measures to delay the government's plan.
On behalf of the Assembly First Nations Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come Office, Elaine Johnston, AFN Health Director said, "The AFN is rejecting Health Canada's current consent form and the deadline of September 1, 2003, set by the First Nation and Inuit Health Branch. Resolution 6/2003 from the Confederacy of Nations meeting in May 2003 at Vancouver provides the position of the AFN and the next steps," and this information is on the AFN website at www.afn.ca.
During the FSIN Legislative Assembly held on June 3, 4 & 5, 2003 in Saskatoon, Vice-Chief Lawrence Joseph was mandated by the Assembly Chiefs to proceed with a court injunction against the federal government to delay the policy from anywhere from 1 to 3 years.
AFN Grand Chief
Matthew Coon Come