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

Constitutional Limits or New Approaches?

In 1929, when the Standing Committee on Industrial and International Relations again discussed federal involvement in sickness insurance, R. B. Bennett, the Conservative leader, and Ernest Lapointe, the Liberal Minister of Justice, both argued against the suggestion that the provinces vest their health and welfare powers in the federal government. Ironically, it was Henri Bourassa, the Quebec nationalist, who suggested that it was time for constitutional change, because “neither the upholders of legislative union nor the defenders of provincial rights ever . . . anticipated that this question of social insurance, whether applying to unemployment, to sickness, or to any other form of suffering, would be of such importance” (Canada, House of Commons Debates, Hansard [May 23, 1929], p. 2781). The collapse of the Canadian economy after the stock market crash on October 29, 1929 challenged all levels of government to respond to their citizens’ needs for many forms of social assistance.

Photo: Henri Bourassa in 1917 , C-009092

Henri Bourassa in 1917, when he was leading the French Canadian opposition to conscription. He was re-elected to the House of Commons in 1925 as an independent member.
Library and Archives Canada, C-009092

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