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



Reforming the British Columbia Plan

Public outrage at the provincial government’s inability to administer the plan effectively and opposition to increasing premiums and co-insurance contributed to the election of W.A.C. Bennettand the Social Credit Party in 1952. The new government eliminated the six-month prepayment and waiting period, lowered the hospital care co-insurance payment to $1 a day and set the 1953–1954 annual premium at $27 for individuals and $39 for families. By 1954, 1,116,000 British Columbians were covered under the provincial plan, while 66,548 welfare recipients also had their health needs met. But the most significant change occurred on April 1, 1954, when the Bennett government abolished premiums and raised the provincial social services retail sales tax from 3 to 5 per cent to pay for this program. And for those who were concerned with the costs of medical services, the Medical Services Association of British Columbia provided a prepaid plan that had 255,000 enrollees in 1954. British Columbia’s experience with the introduction of hospital insurance was an object lesson for other provinces because it demonstrated the pitfalls of copying a system that worked well in one region in a region that lacked the same geographic and economic foundation. Nevertheless, like its counterpart in Regina, the British Columbia Hospital Insurance Service plan became an important source of reference for other provinces as they developed their plans.

Photo: W. A. C. Bennett, premier of British Columbia, Ottawa, April 1955.

W. A. C. Bennett, premier of British Columbia. The photograph is dated Ottawa, April 1955. It was probably taken when Bennett attended the federal-provincial meeting held to discuss the hospitalization insurance plan.
© Library and Archives Canada, PA-115138. Photographer: Duncan Cameron.

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