Mr. Chairman, I have a very brief statement to make in this connection. As the hon. member for Peace River mentioned, I had the occasion over the week end when out west to meet a number of groups of Indians, and my words had a very calming effect on the groups I met there. I hope they will have the same effect this afternoon on this committee of supply.
I wish to make a very brief statement. Hon. members and others have raised the question of services in the divisions of Indian and northern health, and I promised hon. members that I would review the situation and make a statement. I would like to do so at this moment.
The government has had an opportunity to review the matter of Indian and northern health services raised by hon. members and others. As has been mentioned before, the funds made available for these services in the estimates for the fiscal year 1968-69 are greater than those of the current fiscal year. I can also assure hon. members that services now being provided will be continued in the coming fiscal year and will not be permitted to deteriorate.
If in the coming year it becomes apparent that the level of medical services currently being provided cannot be at least maintained, taking into account population growth and rising costs, the government gives the assurance that funds will be provided for this purpose. My officials have been asked to review all directives to ensure that it is quite clear that in the next fiscal year individual Indians and Eskimos will receive the same 27053-508*
Supply-Health and Welfare consideration and treatment by the department with regard to health services as they have received this year.
The Indian and northern health services directorate is checking with its regional directors to ensure that any directives which may have emanated from them and which do not pursue this policy will be amended so that any misunderstanding about this matter will be quickly cleared up.