Yes; it would. Before the hon. member proceeds, I wonder whether I might supplement the information I gave a moment ago with regard to oil contract revenues. I understand that is the figure for both gas and oil revenue from sales, rentals and royalties. Total receipts for 195657, accruing to Indians, were $2,214,550.06 and for 1957-58, to November 30, 1957, were $1,869,047.99.
There is one matter I should like to bring to the minister's attention in connection with trust funds, if he is listening now. Why is it that on a reserve which has a trust fund, even though it might not amount to very much, when houses are built on that particular reserve they are charged to band account while on other reserves which have no band funds the Indians get their houses free?
The reason for that is that the general principle is where the Indians have band funds and desire houses, it seems desirable that they should determine themselves what houses shall be built and for whom, with funds at their own disposal. But where it is found in a reserve where
Supply-Citizenship and Immigration there is no band fund or where the band funds are not sufficient to meet the local requirements, those funds are made available under the welfare vote for the provision of what is called welfare housing on a basis determined by the department in accordance with the needs of individual Indians concerned.
know whether the minister has available the figures for, say, the Thunderchild Indian reserve in Saskatchewan? They had a very considerable band fund 20 years ago. That band fund has been diminishing at a very rapid rate. The Indians are very much concerned that anything they get in the way of houses or relief is charged up to band funds, whereas the reserves alongside of them that have no band funds get all these things free.
In that regard, Mr. Chairman, I might say that I have had a number of requests from bands through chief councillors about this question of the amount of money in band funds and they have extended over the last three or four years. From time to time they have wanted to know how much money was in the band fund, and we have had to take the occasion to put questions on the order paper asking what amount is in it. That has happened on two occasions.
I would like to say I appreciate very much the fact the minister agrees that the amount of food relief is inadequate and I am glad that some steps are being taken to revise this system. I believe it was yesterday, however, that the minister replied to some general comments under the administration vote of this department and he pointed
out that the relief in kind was being supplemented by relief in cash. I wonder whether he could say how much cash and so on?
I am sorry, Mr. Chairman, I should have risen this morning on a question of privilege, and I am glad the hon. gentleman has brought this matter to my attention because I inadvertently misled the committee last night. When I said that we were concerned with the ration scale I said that I should point out in fairness, that the ration scale is supplemented in many cases, if not most, by the cash relief program under which Indians are also paid cash and allowed to make their own purchases from that. I was in error; I was a little over-enthusiastic. The cash relief program has been started on an experimental basis with a provision in the 1957-58 estimates of $100,000 and the explanation of this vote is as follows. It is proposed to introduce in 1957-58, cash payments on an experimental basis to some of the Indian population in need of relief by way of food, clothing, fuel and other miscellaneous items. This is to be done in the following manner. Temporary relief recipients will have cheques issued through spending programs maintained in agency offices; permanent relief recipients, that is to say, those in the following categories, crippled, not eligible for disabled persons' allowances, prematurely aged, widows, abandoned mothers of minor children who cannot qualify under the provincial mothers' allowance act, those categories will receive cheques issued by the cheque disbursement division of finance.
This is an experimental program to try to see what prospects there are of substituting for relief in kind a system of cash payments so that the Indians will eventually no longer feel they are different from white recipients of relief. They will not be stigmatized by having to take a grocery order slip into the grocery store and be handed out something from a shelf, which obviously characterizes them as people in receipt of charity, relief, or whatever you want to call it; whereas white citizens in receipt of relief have a cheque paid to them and they can spend it anywhere without anyone knowing whether they are spending their own money or money provided to them through a relief agency.
This is an experiment and we hope that it will show us and will show the Indians that we can eventually bring them to the same standard in this respect as the white people.