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



The Politics of Confrontation

Harris and his party had adopted the rhetoric of the neo-conservatives, who argued that big government and its Keynesian economic policy had to be replaced with a “common sense revolution” that focused on cutting taxes, improving the economy and eliminating wasteful social spending. To deal with the health care sector, Harris appointed Dr. Duncan Sinclair, former Dean of Medicine at Queen’s University, to head a Health Services Restructuring Commission, whose task was to assess the province’s need for curative facilities and to recommend closure, amalgamation or expansion depending on population projections and other data. The purpose of the commission was to create a broad and compelling vision of a reformed health system, but its mandate was to rationalize curative services and to ensure that rapidly growing suburbs had nearby facilities while hospitals in over-served urban cores were closed. Not surprisingly, when this type of top-down change was combined with a 15 per cent reduction in social welfare spending and Premier Harris’s famous remark that nurses were about as useful as hula hoops, many of the province’s health care workers joined the “days of protest” with vigour. But with a renewed majority after the 1999 election, Harris joined with fellow premiers Ralph Klein of Alberta and Lucien Bouchard of Quebec to demand an increase in federal funding while continuing to plan further changes to health care programs and their delivery.

Photo: Buttons like this one were worn at rallies against the health care policy of Ontario’s premier Mike Harris after his election in 1995.

Buttons like this one were worn at rallies against the health care policy of Ontario’s premier Mike Harris after his election in 1995.
Courtesy of the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre

Transcription:
Stop the Harris Health Care Cuts!
Ontario Health Coalition



Back to Timeline 1989 - 2007
    Date Created: March 31, 2010 | Last Updated: April 21, 2010