Students will learn about the Canadian legislative process by reviewing the steps required to introduce a bill in Parliament and make it into law, looking at the Medical Care Act of 1966, brainstorming about and researching the people who played a role in the creation of this law, and then discussing the contributions and concerns of various related interest groups between 1914 and 1966.
Grade: Grades 9 to 12; Quebec Secondary Cycle 2
Subjects: Civics, Social Studies, Geography, History and Citizenship Education
Themes: Canadian politics and government, twentieth-century Canadian history, social change, social programs, Canadian citizenship and identity, connections between historical phenomena and contemporary life
Objectives and Competencies: Use information, use information and communication technology, use oral communication, communicate appropriately; observe, describe, summarize, reason; use critical thinking and creativity; cooperate with and listen to others; develop research skills and methods of historical inquiry
Duration: 120–180 minutes
Required Technical Equipment
1. Make sure students have some knowledge on the subject of medicare in Canada. The Medicare Timeline Lesson Plan can be used as a good introduction.
2. Familiarize yourself with Making Medicare: The History of Health Care in Canada, 1914–2007, as well as the Student Introduction and Student Steps for this Lesson Plan.
3. Familiarize yourself with the Canada Health Act (1984) and the Medical Care Act (1966).
4. Look at the way laws are created in Canada. The Parliament of Canada Web site is an excellent reference source.
1. Begin with a classroom discussion about the way laws are created in Canada.
Ask your students what they know about what a law is and how a law is created. Review the steps required to create a law, from introducing a bill in Parliament, through first and second reading, committee stage, third reading and approval of the bill, then Senate approval and Royal Assent. Ask students who they see as influential in the creation — or rejection — of a law. Citizens, interest groups and politicians all can, and do, influence law-making.
2. Introduce the Medical Care Act of 1966 and discuss its impact on Canadians.
Explain that this act established the initial four principles of medicare (public administration, comprehensive coverage, universality, and portability) and is the basis for the federally funded medical insurance system that exists in Canada today. For provinces and territories to receive federal money for medicare, they had to follow these four principles. In 1984, with the Canada Health Act, a fifth principle — accessibility — was added.
The Medical Care Act changed the lives of Canadians. Ask your students what they know about life before medicare, and ask them to imagine life without government-funded medical insurance. Before medicare, many people had no medical care insurance and had to pay for medical services themselves. If you had to go to a doctor or hospital, you were responsible for your own bills. Some people — the more fortunate — belonged to private insurance plans, either through work or independently. Either they or their employer paid premiums and, when medical care was needed, the insurer paid most of the costs involved.
3. Brainstorm about and categorize some of the people who may have had an interest in the Medical Care Act.
Who would have supported the creation of this law? Who would have opposed it? Who provided input? Those with an interest in it included: doctors and nurses, insurance companies, parents, business people, politicians from each of the political parties (Liberal, Progressive Conservative, Co-operative Commonwealth Federation).
They can be categorized as follows: citizens, politicians, medical professionals and business people.
4. Introduce the Creating a Social Program challenge.
Divide the class into pairs and ask students to choose one of the four categories (citizens, politicians, medical professionals or business people). Explain the students’ task: in pairs or individually, students will explore one of the four categories in depth and, using the Making Medicare History (including Key Players), select an individual or group from that category and research the role this person or group played in the development of the Medical Care Act of 1966. Direct your students to the Student Introduction and Student Steps related to this Lesson Plan, and explain that all the information they need for the assignment, including links to the History, is accessible from those sections.
5. Give the students time to complete their work. As needed, provide support to students in their research.
6. Invite students to share their findings.
Who did students choose? What role did the individual or group play in the creation of the act? What position did he, she or the group take? Why were certain groups so opposed to the act, and why was the public so in favour of it?
How did the final version of the act reflect the concerns of each person or group? Did the final act favour one person or group over another? Or, in the students’ opinion, was the act a good compromise of all views?
What position would your students have taken at the time?
What do they think the position of this individual or group is, or would be, today?
1. Provincial and Territorial Progress
Encourage your students to discuss the current state of medicare in their province by looking at local media and drawing on personal experiences. Which issues do the media focus on? How is health care organized? Are the five principles of medicare being adhered to? What benefits have the students obtained from health care in their province or territory? Does anyone have different experiences? Ask students to explore the Geography section of Making Medicare and look for the historical developments in their own province or territory. What were the key developments and who were the key players? Was their province ahead of or behind the others in establishing medicare? Why?
Invite students, as a class, to identify key players (individuals or groups) in their province. Then ask them to work individually or in pairs and to research and make a profile of the individual or group, illustrating the contribution he, she or the group made, and present it to the class.
2. The Canada Health Act and Beyond
Start by reviewing the creation of the 1984 Canada Health Act with the students, as well as the developments that have taken place since its creation. Then divide the class into groups and ask students to look at the roles of citizens, interest groups and politicians in updating the original act. How have issues changed? How have they stayed the same?
3. Re-enact a Debate
Using Hansard as a resource, re-enact a medicare-related debate or presentation of a medicare-related question in Question Period.
4. Political Action Project
Invite your students into a discussion about how individuals can influence the political process. Follow through on one of the avenues suggested (e.g., write a letter to the editor, send a copy to your Member of Parliament).