Making Medicare:  The History of Health Care in Canada, 1914-2007 Back to Timeline Back to Timeline
History: 1958-1968 PUBLIC OR PRIVATE? VOLUNTARY OR COMPULSORY? : HOSPITAL CARE FOR CANADIANS, 19481958 CONFLICT AND COMPROMISE: CREATING THE MEDICAL CARE AC, 1958–1968 FROM COST CONTROL TO HEALTH PROMOTION: IMPLEMENTING MEDICARE, 19681978


Introduction

Between 1958 and 1968, citizens in every Canadian province debated the pros and cons of medical services insurance. At the heart of the debate was the question of the role of government in health care. Was it to be the sole funder and chief administrator? What role was there for the medical profession? For the private insurance companies? For Trans-Canada Medical Plans?In a society that was split between those who wanted to see governments extend the benefits of the welfare state to all citizens and those who viewed government support as equivalent to communism, the debate over medicare was destined to be headline news throughout the decade. Saskatchewan led the push for publicly administered and funded medical insurance, while Alberta and Ontario restricted public funding to support for the indigent and those on low incomes. Elsewhere, Quebec was focusing on the development of its own approach to health and social services, while the Atlantic provinces were deeply concerned about their ability to afford the human and financial costs of expanded health care services. And between 1962 and 1968, the national political scene saw a series of minority Progressive Conservative and Liberal governments led by John Diefenbaker and Lester Pearson grapple with the modernization of Canadian society. The debate about medicare was a key component of that process.

Photo:  Health Insurance: Where the Parties Stand
Health Insurance: Where the Parties Stand

Normand Hudon’s drawing of the four party leaders just after the 1962 federal election shows their attitudes towards health insurance, ranging from Tommy Douglas’s comprehensive plan to Réal Caouette’s pointing to the insurance companies’ role.
McCord Museum, Montréal, M997.63.257

Transcription:
NDP: Comprehensive health insurance
Liberal: For us, it’s above a certain amount
Social Credit: The insurance companies will pay
Conservative: We’re waiting for the results of the survey!



Back to Timeline 1958 - 1968
    Date Created: March 31, 2010 | Last Updated: April 21, 2010