Making Medicare:  The History of Health Care in Canada, 1914-2007 Back to Timeline Back to Timeline
History: 19892007 SAVING THE SYSTEM: THE CANADA HEALTH ACT, THE OTTAWA CHARTER AND ACHIEVING HEALTH FOR ALL, 19781988 THE ENDLESS CHALLENGE: BALANCING CHANGE AND CONTINUITY, 19892007



Changing Perspectives

Through the 1980s, privately funded think-tanks such as The Fraser Institute and the C. D. Howe Institute had been preparing reports that suggested the Canada Health Act imposed a straitjacket on options for patients, providers and provincial governments. Such reports argued that privatization of public services should be encouraged in order to ensure that citizens received the best possible treatment if they were willing to pay for it. While such views appealed to some wealthy Canadians and ideologues who supported the Thatcher, Reagan and Mulroney efforts to cut social spending, the majority of Canadians, particularly Albertans, rejected this view of health care as a commodity. Provincial governments certainly experienced the impact of federal cuts and rising costs. In Saskatchewan, the newly elected New Democratic Party (NDP) government of Roy Romanow demonstrated its fiscal realism by closing 52 small rural hospitals. Many of these facilities became retirement homes or chronic care facilities in response to the aging of the population — an issue that other provinces would also soon face. In response to financial pressures, Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island had all introduced regional health authorities to integrate their health services and bring in wellness programs by 1993. But would these changes limit the ever-rising costs and fulfill Canadians’ expectations of their health care system? The loss of cherished services was deeply felt, as demonstrated in Stan Beutel’s editorial cartoons about New Brunswick Premier Frank McKenna and the efforts made by his Minister of Health, Dr. Russell King, to cut health care spending and increase community-based services (hospitals without walls).

Photo:  RX for Seniors:  Early death can save you a pile  of dough!  — Russell K.
RX for Seniors: Early death can save you a pile of dough! — Russell K.

Josh Beutel’s clear-sighted view of the policy advocated by Health Minister Dr. Russell King in 1992 reflects the vulnerability felt by senior citizens in New Brunswick.
Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, MC2806, Josh Beutel Fonds: Series C-3831



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