Making Medicare:  The History of Health Care in Canada, 1914-2007 Back to Timeline Back to Timeline
History: 1914-1929 ORIGINS, 1914–1929 DEPRESSION DEVELOPMENTS, 1930–1939


From 1919 to 1929, Canadians saw the creation and realignment of the first federal Department of Health. Initially, the new department was not involved in the development of sickness insurance measures, even though workers’ concerns about their health status and rising health care costs had provided an impetus for its creation. While the Western provinces examined the issue and experimented with travelling clinics and maternity benefits, federal support for veterans created a group of citizens who viewed government involvement in health care as a right of citizenship. As the Liberals and Conservatives grappled with the creation of party platforms to meet the needs of urban Canada, the Progressives and the Labour Members of Parliament brought new perspectives to the public debate about the role of government. The Great Depression would prove to be the catalyst for redefining Canadians’ values, leading to the initial attempts to create provincial health insurance plans.

Photo: Travelling clinic, Library and Archives Canada/C-029449

The staff of one of rural Alberta’s travelling clinics performs an operation, 1929. The makeshift operating room seems to be located in an institutional building.
Library and Archives Canada/C-029449

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