Making Medicare:  The History of Health Care in Canada, 1914-2007 Back to Timeline Back to Timeline
Costs & Benefits: 1948-1958 Costs & Benefits: 1939-1948 Costs & Benefits: 1948-1958 Costs & Benefits: 1958-1968



Canada Sickness Survey

The Canada Sickness Survey was conducted by the Dominion Bureau of Statistics during 1950–1951, when it gathered data from a sample of 40,000 households; its results were released in 1953. The survey had identified three categories of illness: 1. that leading to loss of general good health; 2. that leading to disability that imposed changes on a person’s normal activity; and 3. that requiring bed rest or care. According to the results of the survey, Canadians lost an average of 23.7 days per year to lapses in general good health, 11.9 days per year to disability, and required an average of 5.6 days of bed rest or care per year. Statistical analysis of days of illness that correlated to income levels confirmed that those who were least able to pay for medical care were least likely to purchase it. The data in the survey challenged existing hospitalization statistics that appeared to show that low-income and high-income patients received equal days of hospital care, since it showed that lower-income males spent more days in hospital because of a higher incidence of disability requiring hospital care (disability due to illnesses such as tuberculosis and accidents, for example). The data generated by the survey made an important contribution to the development of medicare by clarifying existing patterns of illness and their relationship to income, thus showing the need for a national health insurance program.

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