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



Conflict in Quebec, 1995–2000

After the defeat of the second referendum on sovereignty in 1995, Lucien Bouchard had the unenviable task of implementing cuts to health care as federal funding declined. Not unexpectedly, this led to strikes by health workers, especially nurses, and to growing frustration among citizens as they were unable to get prompt care for urgent medical problems. In response, Bouchard was receptive to the idea of “social union” — a concept that he and other premiers defined as allowing a province or territory to opt out of federal social programs with full funding as long as the province provided a program that had “similar objectives.” As well, Ottawa agreed to work towards provincial consensus rather than enforcing specific standards; to put limits on federal spending on potential new programs for home care and pharmacare and to consult with the provinces before such programs were introduced; and, finally, to transfer administration of social programs to the provinces. This agreement was signed on February 4, 1999, but it failed to resolve the conflict between the two levels of government. Through much of 2000, the premiers worked to develop a position paper outlining their demands for more funding and, in the spring and summer, both Ontario and Quebec unleashed expensive advertising campaigns designed to make citizens believe that the federal government had no role to play in health services, since it was providing only 10 cents of every health care dollar. In response, the Chrétien government provided its own advertisements to counter these claims.

Photo: I have faith!
I have faith!

Aislin (alias Terry Mosher) shows his Quebec readers the relationship between the province’s doctors and Premier Lucien Bouchard.
McCord Museum, Montréal, M2002.119.42



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