From 1941 to 1945, Dr. John J. Heagerty worked to create a national health insurance program. In February 1942, Heagerty was named as Chair of an Advisory Committee on Health Insurance, whose task was to examine “all factual data relating to health insurance and, in particular, those relating to costs” (J. J. Heagerty, Letter to the Editor, CMAJ 46 [April 1942]: 390). Leonard Marsh was one of the committee members, along with five statisticians, an actuary and the Department of Pensions and National Health’s solicitor.
With the support of Ian Mackenzie, Minister of Pensions and National Health, Heagerty’s committee prepared draft legislation, which was discussed with the Canadian Medical Association’s Committee of Seven. Heagerty also sought support from social welfare groups, women’s organizations, farmers’ and labour groups, and health professionals such as hospital administrators, nurses and dentists. His goal of providing federal funding for preventive and curative services was clear. However, during the special Committee on Social Security hearings in 1943 and 1944, it became evident that the complexity of the proposals and increasing opposition from members of farmers’ and labour groups, who believed that too much power had been given to medical practitioners in the provincial health commissions, meant that Heagerty’s efforts would be unsuccessful.