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Battlefords Tribal Council Signs Historic Health Service Agreement

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      JULY 1993      v22 n06 p02  
BTC Signs Historic Agreement Left to Right: Chief Andrew King, Lucky Man Band; Chief Clarence Stone, Mosquito Band; Chief Wayne Standinghorn, Sweetgrass Band; Chief Johnson Kakum, Little Pine Band; Irene Davies, Assistant Regional Director, Medical Services Branch.

North Battleford - The Battleford Tribal Council today signed an agreement with the federal government that authorizes the council to design and deliver community health services to its member bands. To be in effect for five years, the agreement transfers management and delivery authority and $1.1 million in annual funding to the council from Medical Services Branch (MSB) of the federal department of health.

"This is a proud, historic occasion for the First Nation peoples of the Council's member bands of Mosquito, Little Pine, Sweetgrass and Lucky Man," said Andrew King, chairman of the board of the Council's health service agency, BTC Indian Health Services Inc. (BTCIHS).

"Based on the Tribal Council's track record and the quality of the pre-transfer planning effort it undertook, the government of Canada has every confidence the BTCIHS will do an excellent job," said Len Taylor, member of Parliament for Battlefords-Meadow Lake. "This new partnership with the government of Canada recognizes and respects the authority of the Tribal Council and its affiliate health agency, and provides the financial resources to protect public health and community safety"

In the past, BTCIHS delivered services under an annual contribution agreement that, in effect, dictated expenditures and approaches to service delivery in a detailed way.

"We don't expect any immediate, radical changes in the way we deliver our services," Chief King said, "but the agreement does provide us with guaranteed funding for five years and it empowers us to design and deliver services the way we see fit. It is clearly another major step on the pathway of Indian government development." The agency he chairs is an incorporated board with the chiefs of member Bands being the directors.

Battlefords Tribal Council has been very active in recent months in attempting to develop a comprehensive, strategic approach to socio-economic development: an approach that includes economic development and social development, as well as health promotion," said Randy Wallace, general manager of the Tribal Council.

The Council has established itself in business in both North Battleford and on its member reserves and it hopes in the near future to assume control of child-welfare services to be provided to its member Bands.

Janice Kennedy, executive director of the Indian Health Agency, explained that community health services include such services as pre and post-natal support services, health education, communicable disease control and environmental health.

"The agreement does not include medical or hospital services or non-insured services, such as prescription drugs, medical transportation or health aids, she said.

This is the seventh health services transfer agreement signed in Saskatchewan. Fifteen other Indian organizations including both Tribal Councils and Bands, are either currently negotiating transfer agreements or are at various stages of pre-transfer planning.

"Through the signing of this transfer agreement, the First Nations of North Battleford Tribal Council and Medical Services Branch have come a step closer to realizing a new, strengthened relationship," said Jim Roll, regional director of MSB. "This relationship recognizes and respects the autonomy of the member First Nations in the planning and the delivery of health care services."

Mayor Barry Conkin, representing the, city of North Battleford, said he looked forward to the city working with the health centre and the surrounding First Nations band and its members on this and other projects.