Making Medicare:  The History of Health Care in Canada, 1914-2007 Back to Timeline Back to Timeline
History: 1948-1958 NATIONAL SYSTEM, NATIONAL FAILURE? : WAR, RECONSTRUCTION AND HEALTH SECURITY FOR CANADIANS, 1939–1948 PUBLIC OR PRIVATE? VOLUNTARY OR COMPULSORY? : HOSPITAL CARE FOR CANADIANS, 19481958 CONFLICT AND COMPROMISE: CREATING THE MEDICAL CARE AC, 1958–1968



Identifying the Challenges

One of the most important of the 1948 health grants was the funding for provincial health surveys. Between 1949 and 1953, all of the provinces, including the newest one, Newfoundland, which had joined Confederation in 1949, produced comprehensive reviews of their hospitals, health care personnel, training facilities, public health programs and existing public or private hospital and medical insurance plans. In 1950 in Ontario, for example, non-profit health care plans such as Blue Cross, Physicians’ Services Inc., Associated Medical Services Inc., Windsor Medical Services Inc., Hollinger Employees’ Medical Services, cooperative medical plans and fraternal and mutual benefit associations provided coverage to 1,992,000 citizens enrolled in such plans. Group contracts or individual policies with various life insurance companies served roughly 900,000 Ontarians, while the government funded care for 1,433,000 workers’ compensation clients, industrial camp inhabitants and welfare recipients. But even with these statistics, only two-thirds of the population had “some measure of protection against the financial loss attendant upon illness or accidental injury” (Ontario Health Survey Committee, “Prepayment Plans for Hospital and Medical Care,” Report of the Ontario Health Survey Committee, Vol. III, Section 1, 1952, p. 359). Was this sufficient? What other alternatives existed, especially for “catastrophic” medical and hospital needs?

“Medical progress places an increasingly heavy financial burden on governments. Caught between the public, which can no longer pay for medical and hospital care, or is no longer willing to do so, and the hospitals, which seek a more adequate financial consolidation, governments are searching for solutions that will please everyone and not entail too much of a tax increase.”

– Dr. Paul David, Director, Montréal Heart Institute, in L’Union médicale du Canada, Vol. 86, No. 8 (August 1957), p. 881, translation.

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