Making Medicare:  The History of Health Care in Canada, 1914-2007 Back to Timeline Back to Timeline
Key Players: 1948-1958 Key Players: 1939-1948 Key Players: 1948-1958 Key Players: 1958-1968

Ernest Manning

Born in Carnduff, Saskatchewan, Ernest Charles Manning (1908–1996) was one of Alberta’s longest-serving premiers (1943–1968) and most effective leaders. Manning graduated from Premier William Aberhart’s Prophetic Bible Institute in 1930 with a thorough knowledge of the Bible and formidable writing and public-speaking skills. He used these skills as secretary of the institute and as a public speaker and campaigner for Aberhart’s Social Credit Party. First elected to the Alberta legislature in 1935, Manning succeeded Aberhart as leader of the Social Credit Party and Premier of Alberta in 1943. Manning’s political fortunes benefited from the revenues generated by the Leduc oil field in 1947, since they gave his government additional funds to finance improved services in education, health care and infrastructure without raising existing taxes or introducing new ones. Manning strongly opposed the creation of a provincial health insurance plan like Saskatchewan’s because it made enrolment compulsory rather than a matter of choice. Although his governments increased access to health care through programs that provided free care for maternity, polio and social assistance cases and sponsored municipal hospital insurance schemes during the 1950s, Manning remained committed to voluntary enrolment until he resigned in 1968. His preference left many Albertans with inadequate or non-existent coverage until the province joined the federal medicare program on July 1, 1969.

Photo: Ernest Manning, in 1943

Ernest Manning, a former radio evangelist, is shown here in 1943 when, as leader of the Social Credit Party, he began his 25-year term as premier of Alberta.
Glenbow Archives, NA-2922-14

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