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“Keep Our Doctors” Committees

As the conflict between the doctors and the Saskatchewan government escalated in 1962, organized opposition to medicare emerged. Four women, worried about the loss of their doctors, organized the first “Keep Our Doctors” Committee, according to the Regina Leader-Post, and their group immediately attracted “opposition politicians, druggists, dentists, conservative businessmen, the medical profession, and everyone with a grievance against the government” (R. Badgley and S. Wolfe, Doctors’ Strike: Medical Care and the Conflict in Saskatchewan [Toronto: Macmillan of Canada, 1967], pp. 52–53). The group held mass rallies at the legislature and on May 30 presented Premier Woodrow Lloyd with a petition signed by 46,000 citizens, demanding that the government negotiate with the doctors and delay the implementation of medical services insurance until agreement had been reached. Lloyd refused their requests and the campaign intensified. Full-page advertisements in local papers warned citizens about the dangers of importing doctors from abroad, and a form letter provided to doctors told citizens: “I cannot, in all conscience, provide services under the act and thus my office will be closed on July 1st. It will stay closed until the Government will allow me to treat you, as I have in the past, without political interference or control” (Doctors’ Strike, p. 53). The activities of the “Keep Our Doctors” Committees highlighted the ideological roots of the conflict over the implementation of the Saskatchewan Medical Care Insurance Act.

Photo: Doctors overseas offered $10,000 posts in Sask.
Doctors overseas offered $10,000 posts in Sask.

Ed Sebestyen’s cartoon is based on the tactics of the anti-medicare groups in Saskatchewan, who spread false information about the type of doctor the government was recruiting to replace departing or striking doctors.
Saskatchewan Archives Board, F379-1293-B

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