When the Royal Commission on Dominion–Provincial Relations submitted its report in 1940, Canada was at war. The ravages of the Great Depression were beginning to fade, but the memories of unnecessary suffering, lack of medical and hospital care, and the shortcomings of federal responses to these problems remained. Would the leadership that had been so sorely lacking in the 1930s appear in the 1940s? Would it be able to overcome the limitations of the British North America Act and the traditional mindset of the long-serving generation of politicians?
“I recall the winter of 1932. January was very cold and stormy. The temperature would hover between thirty-five and forty-five degrees below zero. That’s when my mother took it upon herself to nurse our neighbour who lived a mile away. So every morning she walked and nursed our neighbour with mustard plasters and hot chicken soup. This kept on for three weeks. There was no thought of going to the hospital, because there was no money.”
– Birgit Ethier, Medstead, Saskatchewan, in Life Before Medicare: Canadian Experiences (Toronto: Ontario Coalition of Senior Citizens’ Organizations, 1995), p. 17.