Department of Indian Affairs chief medical officer Dr. P.H. Bryce conducted an official investigation of the residential schools in Western Canada focusing on health conditions there. In his 1907 report, Bryce revealed the alarming results of his survey of 15 schools. He provided a statistical analysis of the extent of tuberculosis in the schools and discovered the death rate among pupils in these institutions to be 24 per cent. Had the study included other schools or covered an extended period of time, the death toll might have been higher still, a fact acknowledged by Deputy Superintendent of Indian Affairs D.C. Scott. The report laid blame for this disastrous state of affairs on the churches who were mismanaging the schools, but more particularly on the government. Chronic underfunding did not permit the construction or maintenance of reasonable structures or the provision of adequate food. As well, the department controlled the health standards and regulations to which the schools were subject, as a result of an Indian Act amendment of 1892. Bryce pointed out that these regulations were poorly applied, if at all. Bryce's report received a great deal of publicity, in part because of the horror stories it related, but also because it gave ammunition to critics of the residential school system who wished to see it brought down for other reasons. Despite the media attention and an acknowledgment of the problems by senior officials, disease and death continued unabated. Bryce resigned from the department in 1921 and the following year published a tract entitled The Story of a National Crime. The work castigated the government and the department in particular for their continued neglect of this issue.

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