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Says Indian Health Services: Indians Will Now Pay

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      MAY 1973      v03 n04 p11  
Indian Health Services has informed Saskatchewan druggists that effective June 1 the government will no longer be responsible for paying for drugs of Indians who live off the reserve.

In a letter to druggists signed by Dr. J. Kirkbride, Saskatchewan regional director of medical services, the druggists are told that "those registered Indian persons who are residents of an urban centre who are either on welfare or self employed . . . will apply for assistance from the agency who supplies the welfare or alternately pay for the service themselves. If they are unemployed and unable to pay, then they should apply for assistance from the municipality."

The letter concludes "we would ask that the pharmacists advise those persons who are urban residents that on or after June 1st they will be expected to pay for their drugs or obtain assistance from their municipality."

Chief David Ahenakew of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians says the Federation will refuse to go along with the policy, and he urged every Indian in the province to refuse to pay for their drugs.

A stand must be taken in order to protect the Indian's treaty rights, he said.

In addition to breaking treaty promises, there are obvious problems in administration of the new policy, said Chief Ahenakew.

It will be an almost impossible task for druggists to determine who is living on or off a reserve and as a result many reserve Indians are likely to also suffer as a result of the policy, he said.

Medical Services has recently asked the Band Councils to supply them with a list of members residing off the reserve, probably in order to implement the new drug policy, but the Band Councils will be urged to refuse this information, Chief Ahenakew said.