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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



Achieving National Standards for Hospital Insurance

With the support of the majority of his Cabinet colleagues, Martin introduced the Hospital Insurance and Diagnostic Services Act on March 25, 1957. This landmark piece of social legislation brought an unprecedented degree of federal control through the regulations that were promulgated later. Each province had to “establish a hospitals planning division; . . . license, inspect and supervise hospitals; . . . approve hospital budgets; . . . collect the prescribed statistics and submit the required reports; and . . . make insured services available to all on uniform terms and conditions.” In spite of criticism from the Opposition regarding the exclusion of sanatoriums and mental hospitals and the lack of funding for administrative costs, the legislation received unanimous support on its third reading on April 10, 1957. After the Senate assented to the bill two days later, it signified federal acknowledgement of its duty to provide funding and technical assistance to those provinces whose plans met the criteria outlined in the act. Together, the federal and provincial governments would create national standards that would provide Canadians with access to modern hospital and diagnostic services through tax-supported plans rather than on the basis of their ability to purchase such commodities.

Photo: The Skeptics
The Skeptics

Days after the landmark Hospital Insurance and Diagnostic Services Act was passed in 1957, Robert Chambers’ cartoon showed three provincial leaders — Robert Stanfield (Nova Scotia), Hugh Flemming (New Brunswick) and Douglas Campbell (Manitoba) — dithering on the shore.
Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1982-166-6. © Estate of Robert Chambers.

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