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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



The Royal Commission on Health Services

At the federal level, the Diefenbaker government responded to a request from the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and the Canadian Life Insurance Officers Association for a Royal Commission to examine Canada’s readiness for a national system of medical services insurance. As previous chapters indicated, this is a method often used by governments and special interest groups to remove contentious issues from the political agenda. But the composition of the Royal Commission on Health Services and the extent of its activities suggested from the beginning that it intended to make an impact. To head the commission, Diefenbaker turned in 1961 to a law school friend, Mr. Justice Emmett Hall, Chief Justice of Saskatchewan. In addition to being a lifelong Conservative, Hall was also a Catholic social activist. His fellow commissioners represented medicine, nursing, dentistry, the business community and economics. A research team, which included academics and senior staff from the Department of National Health and Welfare, travelled to Britain to observe the National Health Service in action, and then went on to Western Europe and to Australia and New Zealand to see how other countries had organized their programs.

Photo:The Right Honourable John G. Diefenbaker, Prime Minister of Canada, just after the 1962 election.

The Right Honourable John G. Diefenbaker, Prime Minister of Canada, just after the 1962 election.
Library and Archives Canada, PA-130070. © Estate of Paul Horsdal.

Photo: Mr. Justice Emmett Hall

Mr. Justice Emmett Hall, the Prime Minister’s law school friend and Chief Justice of Saskatchewan, was appointed chair of the Royal Commission on Health Services in 1961.
© Library and Archives Canada, PA-112573. Photographer: Duncan Cameron.



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