Making Medicare:  The History of Health Care in Canada, 1914-2007 Back to Timeline Back to Timeline
History: 1914-1929 ORIGINS, 19141929 DEPRESSION DEVELOPMENTS, 19301939

The First World War

When Britain declared war on Germany on August 4, 1914, the Canadian public and health care professionals could not have predicted either the war's length or its impact. As Canadians flocked to enlist, Canadian doctors discovered numerous health problems, such as cases of active tuberculosis, flat feet, bad teeth, general debility and sexually transmitted infections. Infectious diseases such as smallpox, diphtheria, typhoid, scarlet fever, measles, mumps and other childhood ailments had also taken their toll, and many recruits were unfit for duty because of underlying heart conditions and other problems. These findings, when combined with earlier reports highlighting high maternal and infant mortality rates in leading Canadian cities, prompted calls for the creation of a national health department to oversee the development of preventive services, which would alleviate the environmental causes of many communicable diseases.

Photo: nurse uses a doll to show young women how to bathe a baby, N 2663

A public health nurse uses a doll to show young women how to bathe a baby, Winnipeg, 1916. High infant mortality and general bad health among the population prompted government agencies to introduce public health education programs.
Archives of Manitoba, Foote Collection, N 2663

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