N.B. Mi'kmaq seek apology for note advising natives not to request pain drugs
Social worker Maxine Ginnish, who is employed at The Rising Sun Healing Centre in Eel Ground First Nation, took a photograph of this handwritten note and distributed it on her social media. (Maxine Ginnish/Facebook)
THE CANADIAN PRESS
Published Friday, June 16, 2017 3:48PM ADT
Last Updated Friday, June 16, 2017 4:08PM ADT
MIRAMICHI, N.B. -- A New Brunswick First Nation is seeking an apology after a doctor's office posted a note asking aboriginals not to request tranquilizers or pain medications.
Social worker Maxine Ginnish, who is employed at the Rising Sun Healing Centre in Eel Ground First Nation, took a photograph of the handwritten note and distributed it on her social media.
The note Ginnish posted says, "Attention: native patients please don't ask for tranquilizers or pain medications," and she says it was taped to the reception desk at the Miramichi office of Dr. Allister Carter.
Ginnish said the note is inappropriate and stigmatizes the First Nations community.
"They're marginalizing one group of people when we are all suffering from addictions issues," she said in an interview Friday.
"Addiction is one of the things that is not prejudiced at all, it doesn't care who you are, so to single out one group of people ... that's racism. It's not right," she said.
"We definitely need an apology and there needs to be some cultural sensitivity into that office and more awareness of addiction and the reality that we're all struggling with it."
The registrar of the New Brunswick College of Physicians and Surgeons says Carter contacted him and told him he has taken down the sign.
Dr. Ed Schollenberg said Carter told him he had received letters from Health Canada's Non-Insured Health Benefits Program -- which funds medications provided to First Nations residents -- notifying him of the need for precautions in his prescribing practices under the program.
"Physicians get notices from the prescription drug plan that handles native patients and they track prescribing to First Nations patients and if there's concerns about doctors prescribing they send letters out ... and say you have to be careful about this," said Schollenberg.
The registrar said Carter received this notice some months ago and as a result the general notice was posted in his office.
However, Schollenberg said this still raises the question of whether the wording and placement of the notice was proper.
"There are two issues. One is, was the physician treating some patients differently than other patients for a discriminatory reason? That would be improper."
"The second thing is ... was it professional to have something like that viewable in the office?"
"At first blush, the approach is pretty questionable."
Carter was not available for comment Friday.
-- By Michael Tutton in Halifax.