Making Medicare:  The History of Health Care in Canada, 1914-2007 Back to Timeline Back to Timeline
History: 1939-1948 DEPRESSION DEVELOPMENTS, 1930–1939 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



Fundamental Principles

Both the Canadian labour movement and the CFA wanted a national plan paid for through the consolidated revenue fund, not the complex contributory proposal outlined in the draft legislation. The workers and farmers called for universal coverage and argued that government should not see health services as a form of charity, but as “an integral part of the life of every Canadian. In other words, the people are thinking of health as a right of citizenship” (Canadian Federation of Agriculture, Health on the March [January 1943]: 10). This concept was clearly argued both in the presentation to the Special Committee on Social Security and in National Farm Radio Forum broadcasts in December 1943. These debates pitted representatives of workers and farmers against Dr. T. C. Routley, the Secretary of the CMA. While the CMA supported the “principle” of health insurance, it did not want to see the draft legislation implemented because it feared regimentation and centralization. The CLIOA and the CHA echoed these concerns. The CLIOA was strongly opposed to linking preventive and curative services, because one dealt with the population at large while the other dealt with individuals, some of whom were enrolled in private, prepaid medical insurance plans. The CHA was also concerned because its members were well aware of the need to expand and modernize their facilities to meet the expected post-war demand.

Photo: What’s Cookin’? A witch’s brew or a national tonic? — The nation’s health is the concern of all
What’s Cookin’? A witch’s brew or a national tonic? — The nation’s health is the concern of all

This drawing depicts the response — scepticism — of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and the Workers’ Educational Association to the draft health insurance legislation drawn up by the federal government and the Canadian Medical Association.
Library and Archives Canada, MG28, I 103, Box 345, e008440966. © Workers’ Educational Association of Canada.

Photo: How People Will Pay for Health Insurance
How People Will Pay for Health Insurance

This chart, showing the proposed rates of insurance premiums based on income, was published in 1944 in the Montreal Gazette. It was criticized at the time for being fictitious.
From the Montreal Gazette, March 2, 1944

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