On July 1, 1968, only British Columbia and Saskatchewan were able to introduce medicare to their citizens. In the other provinces, civil servants faced the daunting task of developing the infrastructure necessary to implement the four federal principles of comprehensive coverage, universality, portability and public administration. In Nova Scotia, for example, the profession-sponsored Maritime Medical Care Inc. plan transferred its staff to the government to enable medicare to come into effect on April 1, 1969. On that day, the following notice appeared in the Truro Daily News:
In response, the newspaper’s reporter Frank Fillmore pointed out that medicare would provide each doctor with “much greater freedom to practice medicine without worrying about whether he will be paid,” and argued that, if doctors, patients and the government cooperated, then, by the first anniversary of the implementation, medicare would be recognized as “the most important single step in social progress in the history of this province.” Similar comments appeared in the St. John’s Evening Telegram, as Newfoundland also joined the program at the beginning of the new fiscal year.
In Alberta, Ernest Manning’s government fought the introduction of medicare to the extent that the Minister of Health, Dr. J. Donovan Ross, resigned his position, and the Premier chose to retire rather than be dragooned into further federal–provincial programs that infringed on provincial jurisdiction. (See Alberta History. Vol. 43, no.1 (Winter), 1995.) But federal funding ensured that Alberta joined the program on July 1, 1969. In Ontario, Premier John Robarts and his supporters in the business community, especially in the insurance industry, vigorously opposed the federal program, but here, too, rising public demand and the loss of revenue resulted in Ontario’s entry into the program on November 1, 1969. Between that date and April 1, 1972 all of the other provinces and the two territories joined the national plan. The Liberal promise of a national health insurance plan had finally become a reality.