Making Medicare:  The History of Health Care in Canada, 1914-2007 Back to Timeline Back to Timeline
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Royal Commission on Health Services

Established in 1961, the Royal Commission on Health Services, chaired by Mr. Justice Emmett Hall, travelled throughout Canada receiving briefs from citizens, provincial governments, professional associations and business groups. The first volume of the commission’s report, released in June 1964, strongly supported federal funding for provincial plans and called for the expansion of health care facilities and training opportunities. When it was released, Newfoundland’s Minister of Health, Dr. James McGrath, called it “the sick man’s Magna Carta,” the Canadian Dental Association announced its support, and Allan Blakeney, Saskatchewan’s former Minister of Health, “welcomed it as almost a blanket endorsement of CCF policy” (“Officials Welcome Plan for Medicare,” Toronto Star [June 20, 1964]: 21). In contrast, the insurance companies argued that patients should pay their own way, as free services led to overuse and caused tax increases. Likewise, front-page headlines in the Globe and Mail on June 20, 1964 reported: “Doctors Stunned by Magnitude” as “Sweeping Health Plan Urged For All Canada.” The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) responded to the report by stating four objections to the Hall Commission’s plan: “Compulsory for all Canadians; monopolistic in that it would be controlled by provincial governments; no deterrent for irresponsible patient demands because the government would foot the bills; and no guarantee that doctors could practice outside the plan” (Steven Scott, “MDs Reject Plan,” Winnipeg Free Press [June 23, 1964]: 1, 4). These clashing views set the stage for a national debate.

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