Making Medicare:  The History of Health Care in Canada, 1914-2007 Back to Timeline Back to Timeline
History: 1914-1929 ORIGINS, 19141929 DEPRESSION DEVELOPMENTS, 19301939



The Political Response

Such idealism found no echo in Members of Parliament from Quebec and several of the Atlantic and Western provinces. For them, health care was a personal responsibility, and the government should not encroach on either the doctor–patient relationship or provincial jurisdiction. As labour unrest increased and the Winnipeg General Strike prompted fears of Bolshevik agitation, the idea of federal support for “sickness and invalidity insurance” faded. The new federal Department of Health opened officially in July 1919, with Newton Rowell as the first Minister of Health and Dr. John Andrew Amyot, a decorated war veteran and former Professor of Preventive Medicine and Hygiene at the University of Toronto, as the Deputy Minister. Their first task was to create and implement federal shared-cost funding programs to deal with tuberculosis and venereal disease, scourges that were feared among returning troops.

Photo: Dr. John Amyot, the first federal deputy minister of health

Appointed in 1919, Dr. John Amyot was the first federal deputy minister of health. A former professor of preventive medicine and hygiene, he had promoted water filtration and chlorination to eradicate water-borne diseases such as typhoid fever.
Courtesy of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association. From the Canadian Journal of Comparative Medicine and Veterinary Science, Vol. 4, No. 3 (March 1940), pp. 62–63.

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    Date Created: March 31, 2010 | Last Updated: April 21, 2010