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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



Implementing the National Health Grants

Only in 1948, two years after Paul Martin succeeded Claxton as Minister of National Health and Welfare, did further action occur. Using his charm to convince Mackenzie King that his legacy as a social reformer required a final show of support for initiatives in health and welfare, Martin persuaded the Prime Minister and Cabinet to approve all of the 1945 health grants and one for hospital construction. The Minister justified his proposals on the grounds that the public was becoming more critical of the government’s failure to assist the provinces by funding medical research, hospitals and free clinics.

Photo: National health insurance team, 1950

By 1948, Paul Martin, Minister of National Health and Welfare (centre), had assembled his national health insurance team, Dr. G. Donald W. Cameron (left) and Dr. Fred Jackson (right). They are shown here in Martin’s office in 1950.
Library and Archives Canada, PA-143199

That and concerns raised by New Brunswick enabled the second federal Deputy Minister of National Health, Dr. G. Donald W. Cameron, to separate the national health grants from the fiscal requirement that provinces use them to prepare for a health insurance plan. In May 1948, Mackenzie King announced the national health grants in Parliament, and six days later his Minister of National Health and Welfare spoke to the Canadian Public Health Association and the provincial deputy ministers about the measure. He obtained Quebec’s approval through personal diplomacy with its premier, Maurice Duplessis. All this effort was a prelude to further attempts to create a national health insurance system, and in July 1948 Dr. Fred W. Jackson, Manitoba’s former Deputy Minister of Health, was appointed as head of the Directorate of Health Insurance. As we will shortly see, Jackson was the architect of the Hospital Insurance and Diagnostic Services Act.

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