Making Medicare:  The History of Health Care in Canada, 1914-2007 Back to Timeline Back to Timeline
History: 1939-1948 DEPRESSION DEVELOPMENTS, 19301939 NATIONAL SYSTEM, NATIONAL FAILURE? : WAR, RECONSTRUCTION AND HEALTH SECURITY FOR CANADIANS, 1939–1948 PUBLIC OR PRIVATE? VOLUNTARY OR COMPULSORY? : HOSPITAL CARE FOR CANADIANS, 1948–1958


Defining the Problem

When war was declared, Canadians focused on recruiting and training soldiers, making munitions, organizing convoys and training aircrew for the new type of war that was anticipated. The Canadian Army Medical Corps also began active recruiting of health care personnel, because it was responsible for assessing future soldiers, sailors and airmen and for caring for them once they had become members of the armed services. Not surprisingly, a significant amount of ill health and a large number of physical defects were found in the initial groups of recruits because of the privations that many had experienced during the 1930s. Indeed, 56 per cent of the volunteers failed to pass the initial physical examination. This prompted questions regarding the role of the federal government in maintaining the health of Canadians. Likewise, further declines in the limited number of medical, dental and nursing personnel available in rural areas and in less affluent provinces as these people joined the armed forces aroused concern. By 1942–1943, the Medical Procurement and Assignment Board was producing statistics that provided a firm foundation for the development of post-war plans to address personnel shortages and to enhance the health of all Canadians.

Photo: When war was declared, Canadians focused on recruiting and training soldiers

Sadly, many of the recruits were physically unfit and unhealthy, the opposite of the type of man the Canadian army was trying to attract with this poster.
Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1983-30-303, C-087430

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