Newly Shared Responsibility of Aboriginal Services Between Provincial and Federal Government


In 1952, after pressure from the CCF on the Federal Government due to their failure in providing adequate services to Indigenous peoples across the province, the Federal Government transferred jurisdiction of welfare services for off-reserve Indigenous peoples in their entirety. The Department of Indian Affairs now claimed that any person living off reserve for more than a year were under the obligation of the provincial government. However, the transfer of welfare services was not accompanied by any financial assistance for the new responsibilities of the CCF. This meant that the new duty of delivering welfare services to a considerable population would be made ever the more difficult; without funding, services could not be fully implemented, adequately staffed, and resulted in under-serving communities the transfer meant to serve. The complex and confusing process of accessing provincial welfare services often discouraged Indigenous applicants and they frequently ran into uncooperative municipal employees.

To the federal government, in theory, once a status-Indian lived off reserve for over a year they would be assumed by provincial welfare, and incidentally, lost their status. This led to many of those living off reserve (who sought wage labour) in Saskatchewan to move back to their reserves in order to retain access to services provided by Indian Affairs, despite their inadequacy. The loss of status also posed great concern, as access to land and the right to live on their reserve would be threatened after the 12-month mark; undermining access to land directly harmed Indigenous peoples, while the government benefited as they would no longer have a fiduciary duty to any of these persons. These new changes to provincial welfare services, as has been continuously seen in service implementation, failed to address the needs of Indigenous peoples within Saskatchewan due to the paternalistic approach taken. Instead of allocating funds directly to Indigenous peoples, governments continued to fail in directing Aboriginal welfare services.



Barron, F.L., Walking in Indian Moccasins: the native policies of Tommy Douglas and the CCF, 121-122.