Mr. Speaker, for 25 years the early childhood intervention program has provided services to families of children from birth to school age who were developmentally delayed or a risk for delay.
Until now, families residing within first nation communities have had equal opportunity to access these services, either through provincial funding off reserve or federal funding on reserve.
Incredibly, as of next March, the on reserve access through the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs will be cut off. Why? Because federal bureaucrats have erroneously concluded that these services duplicate the aboriginal head start programs. They certainly do not, as the professionals who work in this specialized area have attested.
Hundreds of on reserve families in Saskatchewan alone will be negatively impacted as a result of this decision. New Democrats are pleading with Health Canada and the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development to relook at this program and the clientele it serves.
It would be readily apparent to them that there is no duplication and that the continuation of these programs is both urgent and imperative.