Making Medicare:  The History of Health Care in Canada, 1914-2007 Back to Timeline Back to Timeline
Costs & Benefits: 1914-1929 Costs & Benefits: 1914-1929 Costs & Benefits: 1930-1939



First World War

For Canada, the First World War lasted from its declaration by Great Britain on August 4, 1914 to the signing of the Armistice on November 11, 1918. Canada’s constitutional relationship with Britain made its declaration of war automatic. During the war, Canada provided approximately 500,000 military personnel from a population of 8 million. About 250,000 Canadians manufactured and supplied millions of dollars of war materials through the Imperial Munitions Board, and all Canadians financed the war by accepting new levels of taxation and by buying Victory Bonds. In October 1917, a Cabinet Committee on Reconstruction led to the creation of the new federal Department of Soldiers’ Civil Re-establishment under Senator James Lougheed. The department had multiple branches, including those responsible for hospital treatment and vocational training for returning soldiers, and its actions marked the beginning of the federal government’s role as a health care provider as it built hospitals, nursing homes and sanatoria, and provided rehabilitation programs for the disabled. The federal government’s entry into health care through the creation of the Department of Soldiers’ Civil Re-establishment was part of the history of medicare, because it demonstrated an awareness of health care as a national problem that needed a national solution.

Photo: A patient is treated with Salvarsan™ to cure syphilis at a Special Treatment Clinic in Windsor

A patient is treated with Salvarsan™ to cure syphilis at a Special Treatment Clinic in Windsor, Ontario. Sexually transmitted diseases were a major problem for public health departments before the First World War and after soldiers returned from the war.
Archives of Ontario, RG 10-30-2-1.18

< Previous | Next >


Back to Timeline 1914 - 2007
    Date Created: March 31, 2010 | Last Updated: April 21, 2010