Making Medicare:  The History of Health Care in Canada, 1914-2007 Back to Timeline Back to Timeline
History: 1968-1978 CONFLICT AND COMPROMISE: CREATING THE MEDICAL CARE AC, 1958–1968 FROM COST CONTROL TO HEALTH PROMOTION: IMPLEMENTING MEDICARE, 19681978 SAVING THE SYSTEM: THE CANADA HEALTH ACT, THE OTTAWA CHARTER AND ACHIEVING HEALTH FOR ALL, 19781988



Money and Power: Redefining Federal–Provincial Health Care Roles

As the provinces and territories joined the medicare program, each provincial or territorial health minister quickly recognized the impact of inflation on the costs of health services. To address this issue, they began to hold semi-annual meetings, occasionally inviting the federal minister. But as the federal position changed from support for 50 per cent funding to a determination to cap spending at sustainable levels, the provincial meetings became a forum for the development of a united front to seek more federal funds for innovations such as optometric services, drug benefits, home care and expanded dental services for children. Although the federal government had promised to expand its support for these initiatives during the debate on the Medical Care Act, financial constraints made an increase in funding unlikely. Indeed, the Trudeau government also wanted to create a guaranteed annual income and to focus more attention on emerging environmental issues such as air and water pollution, and needed to find the funds to pay for these activities. Not surprisingly, then, Prime Minister Trudeau remarked to Quebec’s Finance Minister, “Mr. Dozois, you will never have another Medicare, I promise you that,” at the federal–provincial first ministers’ meeting in February 1969.

Photo: “On second thought, it’s all yours fellows!”
“On second thought, it’s all yours fellows!”

The provinces realized that they were not going to get sufficient financial support for the medicare program when they joined it. In Alberta, Edd Uluschak showed the Minister of Finance desperately trying to stop “The Good Ship Just Society” from sinking.
Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1988-025 PIC 00011, e008440956. © Edd Uluschak.



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