April 4, 1957 (22nd Parliament, 5th Session)


Douglas Scott Harkness

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Harkness:

A little while ago the minister was complimenting me on my good humour. However, I must say that his unwonted reticence has been trying me sorely since that time. It is not usual for the minister to be so reticent. As a matter of fact, he is usually one of the most eloquent and long-winded members we have in this house. The fact that he has continued stubbornly to sit in his seat instead of getting up to answer the questions I have asked makes me doubly suspicious.
In replying to the hon. member for York-ton, I think it was, the minister said that as far as tubercular cases and mental cases are concerned among Indians and Eskimos, the department will continue to look after them. But the point is this: At the present time the department is responsible for all health matters as far as Indians and Eskimos are concerned. The very fact that he said they would continue to look after tubercular cases and mental cases only leads me to suspect very strongly that they hope to have the territories council, if it comes into the scheme, assume the responsibility as far as other health and hospitalization care of the Indians and the Eskimos is concerned. In effect, that would mean that it would be assumed by that third of the population which would be subject to taxes and which is particularly concerned as to whether they are going to come in under this scheme or whether they are not going to come into it and the terms under which they are going to come into it.
If the minister is not prepared-as he has not been prepared so far-to say anything further than he has said, I think the only assumption we can draw is that if the Northwest Territories come under this scheme, the white population is going to be saddled with the ordinary hospitalization and health care of the entire population. In effect this means that a third or less than a third of the population is going to be obliged to assume the financial burden for that care. In other words, if the minister has nothing further to say on the matter than what he has said so far, it would appear that so far as the Northwest Territories are concerned the idea of the government is to "get out from under" with regard to a certain amount of the medical and health expenses which they have for Indians and Eskimos at the present time.

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