Beginning with support for milk depots and child welfare clinics, Canadian life insurance companies went on to provide funding for tuberculosis control in Atlantic Canada during the 1920s. Adopting the American model, the four largest insurance companies also underwrote the costs of annual physical examinations for their policyholders from 1929 to 1932. As public discussion of health insurance arose during the 1930s, the Health Section of the Canadian Life Insurance Officers Association (CLIOA) began to comment on the concept and the flaws in various plans.
In 1932, the CLIOA sponsored the publication of Hugh H. Wolfenden’s The Real Meaning of Social Insurance: Its Present Status and Tendencies (Toronto: Macmillan, 1932) to support the conservative argument that governments should not create and fund universal insurance plans because they sapped individual initiative. In 1936, the CLIOA condemned the B.C. health insurance plan because it lacked appropriate cost estimates and had not been assessed for actuarial soundness. But, in its presentation to the Special Committee on Social Security, the CLIOA strongly supported a national health insurance plan while urging more extensive personal contributions and questioning both the potential costs and the requirement that the provinces pay the premiums for indigents. The growth of insurance companies’ medical and hospital services plans during the 1950s, however, ended its support for a national program. In 1960, the new Canadian Health Insurance Association united with Trans Canada Medical Plans to form the Canadian Conference on Health Care to fight a national medicare program.