Friday, September 2, 2011

Lord Taylor reminisces on settling the Saskatchewan doctor's strike

Saskatchewan adventure: a personal record.

By Lord Taylor, B. Sc., M.D., Hon. LL.D.,F.R.C.P., F.R.C.G.P.
720 CMA JOURNAL/MARCH 16, 1974/VOL. 110

About Lord Stephen Taylor:

Lord Stephen Taylor of Harlow
Born in Marlow-on-Thames, England, Stephen Taylor (1910–1988) was a doctor, civil servant, politician and educator. In 1945, he entered politics as a Labour Member of Parliament, serving as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister, as well as Lord President of the Council. As a policy adviser during the creation of the National Health Service, Taylor’s policy experience and political acumen brought him international recognition. 

Taylor knew about Saskatchewan and the health policy goals of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) through a visit he made in 1946 when the CCF launched the Hospital Services Plan. He played a crucial role as negotiator between the provincial government and the doctors during the 1962 strike. Both sides accepted Taylor because both saw him as an expert neutral figure who understood their positions. Taylor stated that he thought the government’s medicare plan was good, but that the enabling legislation had been badly written and rushed. He was able to resolve the strike by winning concessions from both sides, and on July 23, 1962 an agreement was signed. Taylor’s role in resolving the Saskatchewan doctors’ strike paved the way for Saskatchewan to demonstrate medicare’s effectiveness to the other provinces.

I have been asked to write an account of my part in the remarkable series of events which took place in Saskatchewan in 1962, and to comment on the effectiveness of the solution.

My story is part history, part sociology and part autobiography. It records what was in effect the final stages of an unusual industrial dispute. Professional people do not as a rule resort to the ultimate weapon of withdrawal of services, if only because they are as a rule "self-employed". But once a profession is converted, or in danger of being converted, into a public service, the situation is different. Earnings cease to be determined by professionally- devised scales of fees and the haggle of the market. Instead, the profession has to struggle for its share of the available public revenue. It also has to struggle to retain its professional autonomy in the performance of its work...

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