Autonomy in La Belle Province
In Quebec, the election of Jean Lesage and the Liberals in 1960 had initiated the modernization of the province. La révolution tranquille not only removed control of health, education and social services from the Catholic Church, but also led to conflict with the federal government, especially regarding federal spending power. At the July 1965 conference, Lesage commented:
When our plan is introduced, it will operate outside any joint Federal-Provincial program in line with our general policy of opting out in all areas within our competence. Quebec’s decision in this matter rests on the acceptance of our obligations to our citizens and on the necessary exercise of our rights; it is not guided by any desire for isolation; it is still less connected with any strategy aimed at inducing each province to establish
a program completely different from that of others, which would make it relatively easy for private interests apprehensive about Medicare to play one province against another in order to postpone, or even prevent, its introduction in Canada . . . in fact, Medicare may be one subject on which there is most agreement among Canadians generally, regardless of their ethnic origin. The Federal government can make it easier for provinces to exercise their constitutional powers, for example, by rectifying the present system of sharing revenue sources in Canada. (Health Insurance and Canadian Public Policy, p. 386)
This clear statement of Quebec’s position was reinforced when the Union Nationale returned to power in June 1966 and appointed a commission to examine health and social services and to develop a made-in-Quebec approach. The Castonguay-Nepveu Report of 1970 was an innovative response to the challenges facing Quebec.
As premier of Quebec from 1960 to 1966, Jean Lesage presided over la révolution tranquille (the Quiet Revolution), a period of profound change in the province. Lesage’s government passed Quebec’s Hospital Insurance Act in 1961.
© Library and Archives Canada, PA-108147. Photographer: Duncan Cameron
This Blue Cross brochure advertises benefits for subscribers that complement those provided under Quebec’s Hospital Insurance Act of 1961.
Osler Library of the History of Medicine, McGill University, P 126, Arthur Vineberg Fonds
Payment of difference between allowance by Government for ward accommodation and hospital charges for semi-private room.
Benefits apply to all Blue Cross patients authorized for hospitalization under the Quebec Hospital Insurance Act.