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



Drafting and Passing the Canada Health Act

With such strong public support, Bégin was able to persuade her Cabinet colleagues that the problem would be solved by new legislation that combined the original acts and added a new principle — accessibility — with provision for a dollar-for-dollar reduction in federal transfer payments if provinces continued to allow extra-billing or user fees. When the Canada Health Act was presented to Parliament in December 1983, it provoked great opposition from the provinces and medical associations and received strong support from voluntary organizations and the public. During committee sessions for both the House of Commons and the Senate, provincial health ministers and representatives of provincial medical associations warned of the dire consequences of proceeding with the legislation. Job action, exodus to the United States, provincial defiance of federal requirements and a decline in the quality of health care were all indicated as possible responses. But when the federal Conservatives indicated that they would support the legislation, it was clear that the public’s views had prevailed. In one decade, medicare had become central to the Canadian identity, and its defenders supported the federal government’s legislation to maintain national standards.

Photo: Health Care Is Your Concern
Health Care Is Your Concern

The Canadian Medical Association placed this notice in two newspapers stating that doctors and the public had not been consulted about the Canada Health Act, and urging citizens to present their views to the parliamentary committee.
© Canadian Medical Association. Published in The Globe & Mail and Le Devoir, January 31, 1984.



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