Thursday, August 18, 2011

CCF in Saskatchewan led the way in the 1940s

Medicare: A People's Issue

The four years between the provincial elections of 1944 and 1948 were times of rapid change in health care delivery in Saskatchewan. It was the initial mandate of North America’s first social democratic government whose election platform had included a promise to set up medical, dental and hospital services “available to all without counting the ability of the individual to pay”. Some of the changes were innovations while others were developments of existing programs.

The newly elected premier, T.C. Douglas, wasted little time in contacting Dr. Henry Sigerist, professor of the history of medicine at Johns Hopkins University, and author of Socialized Medicine in the Soviet Union, to head a health study commission. Sigerist quickly produced a report that recommended several changes be made.

He called for the establishment of district health regions for preventive medicine, advocated rural health centres of eight to ten maternity beds, and noted that the public should seek medical advice at the centre, so that each doctor would no longer “spend a large part of his time driving around the country.” Sigerist’s recommendations were quickly incorporated into the Health Services Act which was passed before the year was out.

As a result of the Health Services Act and other enabling legislation Saskatchewan took several steps toward its goal of universal health care. Some the changes and developments of the next three years included:
  • First comprehensive plan for pensioners and widows.
  • Formation of the Saskatchewan Health Services Planning Commission.
  • Health Region No. 1, Swift Current created.
  • Saskatchewan first province to provide capital grants for hospital construction.
  • Appointment of Canada’s first full-time cancer physicist, Harold Johns.
  • Swift Current becomes the first region in Canada to combine public health with medical care.
  • Cornerstone laid for the College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan.
  • Funding approved for the construction of the University Hospital in Saskatoon.
  • First universal hospitalization insurance program in North America.

No comments:

Post a Comment