Delay then ensued, as the Prime Minister left for the Commonwealth Conference in London and the Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Mitchell Sharp, made a public declaration that medicare would have to be abandoned or delayed because of the country’s financial situation. This statement nearly triggered MacEachen’s resignation and prompted the Liberal Party conference to pass a series of resolutions supporting federal funding for medical services insurance. The second and third readings of the bill were highly contentious because opponents now believed that there was division within government ranks. Insurance companies and advocates of the profession-sponsored plans redoubled their efforts to persuade Members of Parliament that their organizations could administer plans in a cost-effective manner. The CMA intervened to demand that the federal government immediately proceed to introduce funding for the 5 million Canadians who lacked medical insurance, while leaving the remaining 15 million to continue with private insurers. Since many Canadians were unsure of the extent of their coverage, this action prompted increased public pressure in support of the bill, which passed its third reading in December after the Liberals compromised on the implementation date and shifted it from July 1, 1967 to July 1, 1968.