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



New Problems, New Challenges

The emergence of HIV/AIDS during the early 1980s brought a new disease to the attention of the public and health professionals. Controversy over the diagnosis and treatment of AIDS sufferers attracted sustained media attention. And when hemophiliacs and other blood recipients began to show symptoms of HIV/AIDS, the government faced a full-blown crisis because it had been subsidizing the Canadian Red Cross Blood Services since the 1950s. These challenges emerged just as the Mulroney government was cutting social funding for the provinces. In 1986, the Minister of Finance,Michael Wilson, indicated that he was capping health care expenditures. Once again, the provinces were outraged but, with their costs rising as well, they understood the motivation while deploring the impact. And the impact was great. In Saskatchewan, for example, the Grant Devine government eliminated the Medical Care Insurance Commission in 1987 and then attempted, albeit unsuccessfully, to cap doctors’ earnings. In October 1988, nurses in the province went on strike for a week for improved wages, enhanced job security and the right to speak out about patient care. Non-nursing staff also went on strike that fall to protest the contracting out of services. To deal with these challenges the province appointed a Task Force on the Future Direction of Health Care — a tactic that almost all the provinces would use as they grappled with rising costs and declining revenues.

Photo:  Jake Epp, Minister of National Health and Welfare (1984–1987)

Jake Epp, Minister of National Health and Welfare (1984–1987) in Brian Mulroney’s government, worked to shift federal policies from curative to preventive activities.
Library and Archives Canada, e008440953. © Andrew Danson.

Photo:  The Department of National Health and Welfare teamed up with  other agencies to promote health. This poster provides an example of that  collaboration.

The Department of National Health and Welfare teamed up with other agencies to promote health. This poster provides an example of that collaboration.
© Health Canada. Reproduced with the permission of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada (2008). Library and Archives Canada, Department of National Health and Welfare Fonds, Acc. No. 1986-58-1, e008440962.



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