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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



Medical Opposition in 1960

To the doctors and their political allies in the Liberal, Progressive Conservative and Social Credit parties, such a plan was an unwarranted intrusion on private enterprise. Indeed, the only role that the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan (CPSS) saw for the government was paying the costs for indigents. As a result, the CPSS charged each of its members a special levy to build up a fund to pay for an advertising campaign against the government. Four days before the election, full-page advertisements like the following appeared in Saskatchewan papers:

An Important Message To Our Patients

There have been so many incorrect and misleading statements during the course of this election that we feel it our duty to let our patients know the truth about your doctors’ opinion in regard to state medicine.

Compulsory state medicine has led to mediocrity and a poorer quality of care everywhere it has been put into practice.

We believe that compulsory state medicine would be a tragic mistake for this province and it would undermine the high quality of medical care which you now enjoy.

We will always attend the sick, but we will refuse to support and service a plan which will lead to a poorer type of medical care.

We have supported and continue to support prepaid medical insurance, but please do not confuse this with government controlled compulsory state medicine.

“Compulsory state medicine” was the doctors’ term for systems similar to those found in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and some European countries. Since Canada, like its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies, was engaged in the Cold War, this type of rhetoric resonated with people who feared loss of democracy and freedom of choice. But when the ballots were counted on June 8, 1960, Douglas and the CCF had won 38 of 54 seats and 41 per cent of the popular vote. Although this indicated strong support for the medical services insurance plan among CCF supporters, opponents saw a growing division between the medical profession and the government.



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