Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Saskatchewan's Medical Care Insurance Act 1961

Medicare: A People's Issue

Throughout 1961, the proposed medical care plan remained the top political issue in Saskatchewan. To fulfill its promise of consultation, the government created the Advisory Planning Commission on Medical Care, mandated “to study and report upon a medical care insurance program for the province and on the public need in other fields of health.”

The former President of the University of Saskatchewan, Dr. W.P. Thompson, was invited to act as chair. It was an onerous job, made especially difficult by the attitude of the medical members of the committee. 49 briefs of more than 1,200 pages were submitted by individuals and groups from across the province. In September of 1961 the Committee produced an Interim Report which recommended:
  • Universal coverage for all residents.
  • Comprehensive benefits based on residence, registration and payment of personal premiums with additional finances to be drawn from general government revenues.
  • Utilization fees.
  • Fee-for-service payment.
  • The creation of a commission responsible to the government to administer the plan.
Despite continued opposition from the College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Douglas government used the report as the basis of the Medical Care Insurance Act, which it passed in a special sitting of the legislature.

Ten days before the Act was to be given Royal assent, Douglas turned over the reins of government to the steady but less than charismatic former Minister of Education, W.S. Lloyd.

Douglas’s decades’ old dream of a universal medical care plan seemed complete as he left provincial politics to run for the national leadership of the newly-created New Democratic Party (NDP). The Act was set to become law on July 1, 1962. Two camps, the government in one and the doctors in the other, took uncompromising positions that would eventually lead to crisis and strike.

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1 comment:

  1. Icbc Insurance
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