Making Medicare:  The History of Health Care in Canada, 1914-2007 Back to Timeline Back to Timeline
History: 19781988 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 THE ENDLESS CHALLENGE: BALANCING CHANGE AND CONTINUITY, 19892007



The Second Hall Commission, 19791980

When Joe Clark and the Conservatives took office in May 1979, the new Minister of National Health and Welfare, David Crombie, moved quickly to appoint Mr. Justice Emmett Hall to conduct a commission to determine how medicare had evolved since its introduction and what problems needed fixing. The second Hall Commission was given neither the resources nor the timeline of its predecessor. Nevertheless, it received 450 briefs from health providers and consumers and travelled across the country hearing from citizens, pro-medicare non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the provinces and various medical associations. By the time the commission’s report was completed, the Liberals had returned to power and Monique Bégin had been reappointed as Minister of National Health and Welfare.

On September 3, 1980, Canada’s National–Provincial Health Program for the 1980’s was presented to the press and the public. In his report, Mr. Justice Hall clearly stated that the provinces were not “diverting funds,” but he equally emphatically condemned extra-billing and user fees. Once again, he reminded politicians, bureaucrats, doctors and the public that

Canadians understand the full meaning of the Hospital Insurance and Medical Care Acts. They said, through these two Acts, that we, as a society, are aware that the pain of illness, the trauma of surgery, the slow decline to death, are burdens enough for the human being to bear without the added burden of medical or hospital bills penalizing the patient at the moment of vulnerability. The Canadian people determined that they should band together to pay medical bills when they were well and income earning. Health services were no longer to be bought off the shelf and paid for at the checkout stand. Nor was their price to be bargained for at the time they were sought. They were a fundamental need, like education, which Canadians could meet collectively and pay for through taxes. (Malcolm G.Taylor, Health Insurance and Canadian Public Policy: The Seven Decisions That Created the Canadian Health Insurance System and Their Outcomes, 2nd ed. [Montréal and Kingston: McGill–Queen’s University Press, 1987], p. 430)

Armed with the report, Minister Bégin attempted to negotiate with her provincial counterparts to end extra-billing and user fees. Her efforts were in vain, because doctors’ associations saw extra-billing as a fundamental right. Even provinces that offered large fee increases in return for the surrender of this option failed to gain their agreement.

Photo:  Come now ... Take your medicine!
Come now ... Take your medicine!

Reacting strongly to Mr. Justice Hall’s condemnation of how they boosted their incomes by extra billing, physicians across the country began opting out of their provincial plans.
Glenbow Archives, M-8000-678



Back to Timeline 1978 - 1988
    Date Created: March 31, 2010 | Last Updated: April 21, 2010