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Key Players: 1930-1939 Key Players: 1914-1929 Key Players: 1930-1939 Key Players: 1939-1948

CMA Committee on Economics

In 1931, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) Executive Council formed a Committee on Economics to address its members’ concerns in matters of billing, taxation and government involvement in medicine. The committee, with Dr. Harvey Smith of Winnipeg as chair and Dr. A. Grant Fleming of Montréal as secretary, was instrumental in establishing the association’s 17 principles for the development and implementation of state health insurance. As the committee’s final report stated in 1934: “The ultimate purpose of any plan is to make available for every Canadian the full benefits of curative and preventive medicine, irrespective of individual ability to pay, and, at the same time, to assure the practitioners of medicine and others associated in the provision of medical care a reasonable remuneration for their services” (Canada, Library and Archives Canada, Record Group 29, Vol. 1062, File 502-1-1, Part 3, Report of the Committee on Economics of the Canadian Medical Association, As Presented at the Annual Meeting in Calgary, June 18–22, 1934, pp. 37, 38). To achieve this, the CMA recommended a contributory plan for all Canadians below a specific income: the government would pay for indigents and their dependants; provincial health departments would administer the plan; and only medical services would be provided. In keeping with the CMA’s understanding of the economic constraints of the Great Depression, principle 17 urged “that no economic barrier be imposed between doctor and patient, but that the insured be required to pay a part of the cost of medicines” (Report of the Committee on Economics of the Canadian Medical Association).

Photo: The executive    committee of the Canadian Medical Association, 1935

The executive committee of the Canadian Medical Association, 1935. This influential group developed the medical profession’s position on health insurance in 1934. The only woman is Mrs. Mabel Campbell, who ran the Association’s office in Toronto.
© Canadian Medical Association

Photo: Dr. William Harvey Smith

Dr. William Harvey Smith, of Winnipeg, former president of the Canadian Medical Association, chaired its Committee on Economics in 1931.
From the CMAJ Obituaries, Vol. 43, No. 1 (July 1940), p. 86, with the permission of the publisher. © 1940 Canadian Medical Association.

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