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



Creating a New Department of National Health and Welfare

On June 19, 1944, Mackenzie King introduced legislation to create a new Department of Social Welfare, but he got permission from the Commons to call the new entity the Department of National Health and Welfare, in recognition of the history of the Department of Pensions and National Health. In fact, the government had already removed veterans’ pensions from the department, because it had created a new Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure that Canada’s fighting forces were better treated than they had been after 1918. The welfare section of the new health department was charged with administering the family allowance programand other federal social programs, such as assistance for the blind. The health section was legally obligated to continue with the functions that it had previously performed, but it was also expected to provide expert advice and guidance on health insurance. The new Deputy Minister of Health was Dr. Brock Chisholm, an eminent army psychiatrist, who was committed to improving the physical and mental health of Canadians.

Photo: Dr. Brock Chisholm in his Canadian army general staff uniform

Dr. Brock Chisholm in his Canadian army general staff uniform, National Defence Headquarters, 1942.
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Archives, Canadian Mental Health Association Fonds, 6-P27

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