Wednesday, March 21, 2012

"Medicare's 50th Anniversary" now a blog book

March 22, 2012

Don't want to spend time scrolling down this blog or searching for something? Check out the blog book below to see if assists you.

You can also download the book or embed it.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Medical Care in the Dust Bowl

Between 1929 and 1932, as the national and international economies collapsed, Canadians of all social classes were experiencing the most calamitous decline in their incomes ever. The average per capita income fell 48 per cent during the worst years of the Great Depression, with professional incomes declining by 36 per cent between 1928 and 1933. The cost of living fell by 25 per cent. In rural Ontario, one doctor received “twenty chickens, several ducks, geese, a turkey, potatoes and wood” as payment in 1933.

In Saskatchewan the situation was even worse. The sustained failure of the wheat crop meant that many communities could not afford to pay the salaries of their municipal doctors, who were then on relief like the majority of their patients. As well, 130 other practitioners in hard-hit areas were trying to subsist on an average of $27 per month. To keep them in the province, the provincial government paid them $75 per month for the next five years. By 1937, two-thirds of the province’s population was trying to survive on monthly relief payments of $20.20 for a family of five. Not surprisingly, many doctors left, and the doctor-to-patient ratio decreased from 1:1,579 in 1931 to 1:1,700 in 1941.

But concerned local politicians like Matt Anderson, a Norwegian immigrant, argued in favour of a municipal health insurance plan funded through annual individual or family premiums. In 1938, having gained the support of doctors in Regina, Anderson presented the measure to his colleagues on various regional councils, where straw votes found 80 per cent of the residents in favour of the project. By 1939, Anderson had persuaded the provincial government to introduce the Municipal Medical and Hospital Services Act, which was passed unanimously. Such local initiatives indicated the extent to which rural Canadians were seeking to control the costs of hospital and medical care.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spur provinces to be innovation incubators

The Chronicle Herald 
March 14, 2012

Globe and Mail health care reporter André Picard was in Halifax recently to talk about the sustainability of medicare. He raised several points of interest — and did argue that medicare is entirely sustainable. What was surprising were his thoughts on the division of provincial and federal responsibilities.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has declared that health care is a "provincial jurisdiction." But this is simply untrue. Under the Canada Health Act, both the federal and the provincial governments have clear roles to play in protecting and strengthening universal health care. The federal government is responsible for funding health care through the Canada Health Transfer and ensuring that provinces comply with the principles of the health act. Those principles: public administration, universality, portability, comprehensiveness, and accessibility, ensure that Canadians can move across the country and receive the same high standard of care.

USA: Average Annual Health Care Premiums for Single and Family Coverage


Friday, March 16, 2012

The Saskatchewan Farmer-Labor Party

The Saskatchewan Farmer-Labor Party was the predecessor of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation. In this policy statement they called for the "Socialization of all health services."

Open publication - Free publishing - More socialist

George Williams of the SFLP (future leader of the Saskatchewan CCF prior to Tommy Douglas) speaks at a wheat pool rally, 1930

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Saskatchewan Hospital Services Insurance Plan

After the failure of the federal health insurance proposal in 1946, the CCF government in Saskatchewan moved forwards with its own plan for a provincial hospital services insurance plan.

Having already provided provincial funding for the health needs of the indigent, the blind and single mothers in 1945–1946, the government of Tommy Douglas proceeded to develop a province-wide plan that used the 900 municipalities to enrol all citizens in the plan. Each year at tax time, local authorities collected the annual premium and updated the individual’s or family’s information on their hospital services card.

By 1954, Saskatchewan had 810,000 people covered by its plan, and the statistics that had been generated since its introduction in 1947 clearly demonstrated that increasing the number of available hospital beds also increased the rate of occupancy. Many of the new beds were occupied by mothers and their newborns, and a large proportion of the remainder by the elderly.

For Saskatchewan, the creation of its provincial hospital services insurance program was the first step towards a comprehensive service that would fulfill CCF goals of ensuring that all citizens had access to this basic social good.

In November 1945, Swift Current’s residents voted to establish Saskatchewan’s first health region. The Swift Current Health Region was a self-governing authority that successfully provided a comprehensive range of health care services. This health card belonged to Miss Mary Morgan. 

Western Development Museum, WDM-2003-5-512

Engels and the WHO Report

By Susan Rosenthal 
Chapter 2 of SICK and SICKER 
Mon, Sep 1, 2008

With the headline, “Inequalities are Killing People on a Grand Scale,” the World Health Organization released its 2008 report, Closing the Gap in a Generation: Health Equity through Action on the Social Determinants of Health.

The WHO Report confirmed health inequities between nations as well as “health gradients” within them. It confirmed that the poor are worse off than those less deprived, the less deprived are worse off than those with average incomes, and so on up the social hierarchy. It confirmed that this health gradient exists in all nations, including the richest. It also confirmed that health equality cannot be achieved by medical systems alone.

“Water-borne diseases are not caused by a lack of antibiotics but by dirty water, and by the political, social, and economic forces that fail to make clean water available to all; heart disease is caused not by a lack of coronary care units but by the lives people lead, which are shaped by the environments in which they live; obesity is not caused by moral failure on tahe part of individuals but by the excess availability of high-fat and high-sugar foods.”

Not one of these findings is new.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

CUPE Saskatchewan organizes 50th anniversary coalition

Coalition Meeting - ALL WELCOME!

CUPE Saskatchewan
March 13, 2012

CUPE is inviting fellow unions, employee associations, non-profits and progressive community groups to discuss Medicare as it celebrates its 50th Birthday this year.

Tuesday, March 20 (10 am - 4 pm)

Regina Inn, REGINA

RSVP by calling 757.1009 or

Let's talk about how we can work together in a coalition to engage people throughout Saskatchewan - the birthplace of Medicare - in this vital conversation.

Click to enlarge

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Romanow Report

Through 2001 and 2002, Roy Romanow, former NDP Premier of Saskatchewan and head of the Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada, met with experts, travelled overseas and to the United States, conducted public hearings in 18 Canadian cities and received thousands of responses to the questions posted on the commission’s Website, as he and his fellow citizens grappled with the future of medicare.

As he noted: “In their discussions with me, Canadians have been clear that they still strongly support the core values on which our health care system is premised — equity, fairness and solidarity. These values are tied to their understanding of citizenship. Canadians consider equal and timely access to medically necessary health care services on the basis of need as a right of citizenship, not a privilege of status or wealth.

Building on these values, Canadians have come to view their health care system as a national program, delivered locally but structured on intergovernmental collaboration and a mutual understanding of values. They want and expect their governments to work together to ensure that the policies and programs that define medicare remain true to those values” (Roy Romanow, Building on Values: Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada — Final Report [Ottawa, 2002], p. xvi).

The 47 detailed recommendations that he made prompted both approval and criticism, as governments and the public compared and contrasted his work with that of the Kirby committee.

Saskatchewan NDP sponsors 50th anniversary dinner

50 Years of Medicare

Saskatchewan NDP

A dinner will be held on Saturday, June 23, 2012 at TCU Place, 35 - 22nd St. E, Saskatoon, SK as part of our 75th annual convention of the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party.

The cash bar will open at 5:30 p.m. and dinner will be served at 6:30 p.m. immediately followed by the program featuring former NDP Premier, Roy Romanow as we celebrate 50 years of Medicare and look to the next 50 years.

Print the order form below if you'd like to order tickets to the event.

Click image to enlarge

Health Care Failure: The Occupied Palestinian Territories

By Ravi Katari
Dissident Voice
March 13th, 2012

Health care is a unique issue in international politics and discussions of modern civilization. As an institutional entity, it has both a substantial and direct implication regarding the very existence of human populations. That’s in contrast to markers such as employment, GDP, or literacy that have effects that are slightly harder to trace out. Indeed, the authors of the 2010 World Health Report recognized that “promoting and protecting health is essential to human welfare and sustained economic and social development” and that people “rate health one of their highest priorities” . As a majorly accepted sentiment, it becomes morally difficult to justify institutional health care inequalities if we choose to believe in principles of democracy and Rawlsian equality of opportunity.

If, as a nation, we impose economic sanctions on another country as a method of foreign policy, it’s okay for that nation’s economy to suffer because it puts pressure on the government and state leaders to capitulate. What you’re not allowed to talk about are the direct outcomes on the population because the point is to get the boogey man—Saddam or Osama—but not to cause a humanitarian crisis characterized by the starvation of children in, say, Afghanistan. Unfortunately, severe economic decline and mass suffering are inexorably linked as is clearly demonstrated by the Palestinian condition.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Quebec’s Health tax needs to be cancelled in this month’s budget

By The Project Genesis anti-poverty committee
The Metropolitan
March 12, 2012

Medicare is one of Canadians most cherished programs. Whether rich or poor, Canadians are deservedly proud of the principle that all are treated equally when accessing medical services, irrespective of their income levels. Because everyone pays for Medicare through a progressive tax system, we fund Medicare not based on how much we use the system, but based on our ability to pay. Rich or poor, healthy or sick, we all support it based on our ability to do so.

Yet Quebec’s Medicare system is undergoing some profound changes in its financing. Since 2010, in addition to pre-existing taxes, Quebecers have been forced to pay a health tax. This tax, starting at $25 in 2010, then $100 in 2011, and finally reaching $200 this year, is not based on people’s incomes. This fixed amount tax affects all adults who make beyond a certain low-income cut-off point. If you make even one penny more than thiscut-off, you pay the full amount. For a single person, this amount is only slightly above $14,000 per year. Whether you make $15,000, $150,000 or even $1.5 million this year, you will still pay the same $200.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Lessons of Chile

By Susan Rosenthal
(Chapter 9 of SICK and SICKER)
March 11, 2012

As a new generation takes up the fight for a humane world, it is essential to review the lessons of the past.

The last great upsurge in struggle, during the 1960s and early 1970s, achieved significant advances in health care. Americans won Medicaid and Medicare, and Canadians won a national medical system. There were other victories, like the trouncing of the US in Vietnam. And there were bloody defeats, like the military coup in Chile. Vietnam proved that even the mightiest power can be brought down. Chile also offers valuable lessons.

“The health sector in any society mirrors the rest of that society,” wrote Vicente Navarro in What Does Chile Mean: An Analysis of the Health Sector Before, During, and After Allende’s Administration. The following review of Navarro’s account highlights the experience of Chilean health workers who fought a revolutionary struggle to create a truly democratic health care system.

A Class-Divided Society

Navarro describes Chile as an underdeveloped nation. Yet it was still a capitalist country and in many ways not so different from the United States or Canada.

In 1970, Chile was an urban, industrial society. The top 10 percent of the population controlled 60 percent of the wealth, while the working-class majority (70 percent of the population) held only 12 percent of the wealth. Similar class disparities exist in the US and Canada, being much more extreme in the US where the top one percent controls more wealth than 95 percent of the remaining population.

In Chile, as in all capitalist countries, class divisions are reproduced in the medical system.

Read more HERE.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

“Keep Our Doctors” Committees

As the conflict between the doctors and the Saskatchewan government escalated in 1962, organized opposition to medicare emerged. Four women, worried about the loss of their doctors, organized the first “Keep Our Doctors” Committee, according to the Regina Leader-Post, and their group immediately attracted “opposition politicians, druggists, dentists, conservative businessmen, the medical profession, and everyone with a grievance against the government” (R. Badgley and S. Wolfe, Doctors’ Strike: Medical Care and the Conflict in Saskatchewan [Toronto: Macmillan of Canada, 1967], pp. 52–53). 

The group held mass rallies at the legislature and on May 30 presented Premier Woodrow Lloyd with a petition signed by 46,000 citizens, demanding that the government negotiate with the doctors and delay the implementation of medical services insurance until agreement had been reached. Lloyd refused their requests and the campaign intensified.

Full-page advertisements in local papers warned citizens about the dangers of importing doctors from abroad, and a form letter provided to doctors told citizens: “I cannot, in all conscience, provide services under the act and thus my office will be closed on July 1st. It will stay closed until the Government will allow me to treat you, as I have in the past, without political interference or control” (Doctors’ Strike, p. 53). 

The activities of the “Keep Our Doctors” Committees highlighted the ideological roots of the conflict over the implementation of theSaskatchewan Medical Care Insurance Act.

KOD played on fear and racism

Friday, March 9, 2012

USA: The Struggle for Universal Health Care

By Margaret Flowers
Tikkun Magazine
Winter 2011

Once my eyes were open, I couldn't ignore what was going on. Awareness crept up, starting with a sense that something was wrong. That sense led me to examine the suffering around me -- suffering rooted in the injustice of our health system. I cannot close my eyes on the human toll of corporate domination in this nation.

This is why I devote my time to working for a health system in the United States that meets the human rights principles of universality, equity, and accountability: a single-payer national health insurance. Anything less will prolong suffering and unnecessary death. Every person in this country must have access to the same high-quality standard of health care.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Treating Sick Rich Folks in America

By John Hightower
Nation of Change
5 March 2012

“A hospital with a concierge? Yes. There’s one called Eleven West, an exclusive wing of New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center.”

The plu­to­cratic elite is per­vert­ing health care into a lux­ury com­mod­ity.

In these try­ing times of health care aus­ter­ity, it reaf­firms one's faith in hu­man­ity to learn that many hos­pi­tals are now going the extra mile to pro­vide top qual­ity care for all.

For all su­per-rich peo­ple that is. These folks are so rich they can buy their way into "ameni­ties units" built into se­cluded sec­tions of many hos­pi­tals. It's not med­ical care that they're ped­dling to an elite clien­tele, but the per­sonal pam­per­ing that the su­per­rich ex­pect in all as­pects of their lives.

"I was sup­posed to be in Buenos Aires last week tak­ing tango lessons," a Wall Street ex­ec­u­tive ex­plained mat­ter-of-factly to a New York Times re­porter, "but un­for­tu­nately, I hurt my back, so I'm here with my concierge."A hos­pi­tal with a concierge? Yes. There's one called Eleven West, an ex­clu­sive wing of New York's Mount Sinai Med­ical Cen­ter. "We pride our­selves on get­ting any­thing the pa­tient wants," beamed its di­rec­tor of hos­pi­tal­ity. "If they have a crav­ing for lob­ster tails and we don't have them on the menu, we'll go out and get them."

From New York to Los An­ge­les, hos­pi­tals that draw huge sub­si­dies from tax­pay­ers (and often are so over­crowded that reg­u­lar pa­tients are lucky to get a gur­ney in the hall­way) have set aside en­tire floors for $2,400-a-day deluxe suites. They come with but­lers, 5-star meals, mar­ble baths, im­ported bed sheets, spe­cial kitchens, and other ameni­ties for swells who have both in­sur­ance and cash to burn.

It's re­pug­nant for the plu­to­cratic elite to per­vert health care into a lux­ury com­mod­ity. It splits asun­der Amer­ica's es­sen­tial, unit­ing prin­ci­ple of the com­mon good. To push for a na­tional pol­icy that treats health care as a fun­da­men­tal human need — for all — con­tact Physi­cians for a Na­tional Health Pro­gram: www.​pnhp.​org.

Woodrow S. Lloyd

Born in Webb, Saskatchewan, Woodrow Stanley Lloyd (1913–1972) was a teacher and politician who succeeded Tommy Douglas as Premier of Saskatchewan in 1961.

Lloyd began his teaching career in 1933, became active in the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation and was its President from 1941 to 1944. In 1944, Lloyd successfully ran for the provincial Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) in Biggar, Saskatchewan, the constituency that he would represent until his retirement in 1971.

Premier Douglas appointed Lloyd as Minister of Education, making him the youngest Cabinet minister in Saskatchewan’s history. In this post, Lloyd successfully amalgamated over 5,000 school boards into 56 Larger School Units, giving students access to better facilities and specialized teaching. In 1960, Douglas appointed him as Provincial Treasurer.

 As Douglas’s successor, Lloyd implemented Saskatchewan’s medical care insurance plan in 1962, despite opposition from the medical profession, other provincial parties and “Keep Our Doctors” Committees. Although the doctors went on strike on July 1, 1962, Lloyd’s commitment to medicare and to resolving the dispute with dignity was successful and the plan was implemented. Lloyd’s resolution of the Saskatchewan doctors’ strike showed the rest of Canada that publicly funded, accessible medical services could not be blocked by the private goals of the medical profession.

Bolivia Prescribes Solidarity

Health Care Reform under Evo Morales

By Jason Tockman
Aug 16 2009

A sculpture of Ernesto “Che” Guevara stands in La Higuera, Bolivia, where he was hunted down and killed. Now doctors from Cuba provide healthcare there.
The first time Mario Terán faced a doctor from Cuba, he killed him. He heard Che Guevara utter his famous last words: "Shoot, coward; you are only going to kill a man," and in October of 1967, in a small schoolhouse in rural Bolivia, Sergeant Terán fired a round of bullets into the revolutionary's body.

Forty years later, Terán walked into a medical clinic staffed by Cuban physicians. Disguising his identity, he requested medical attention. His cataracts were corrected, his sight restored.

Like hundreds of thousands of other Bolivians, Che's killer is a beneficiary of Operación Milagro (Operation Miracle), the cornerstone of Cuba's programs of social solidarity in the country. In addition to almost 2,000 Cuban medical personnel in Bolivia, aid from Cuba and Venezuela has funded the opening or expansion of at least 20 hospitals and 11 eye clinics across the country.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

CBC Archives: The 1960 Saskatchewan election

CBC Archives

The Story
As Saskatchewan farmers finish their planting for the fall harvest, the four political parties furiously campaign just days before the 1960 provincial election. Premier Tommy Douglas and the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) seek their fifth term in office, promising a public medical insurance plan that would cover all Saskatchewan citizens. As Newsmagazine's Norman DePoe reports in this CBC Television clip, this is more than a routine provincial election. It may decide whether all Canadians will have state medicare.

Not only is Douglas being attacked by the Liberals, Progressive Conservatives and the Social Credit Party, but a fourth player has also entered the fray. The College of Physicians and Surgeons is knee-deep in the political waters of this election campaign. They warn that voters won't have the same rights as patients under Douglas' plan. Premier Douglas thunders defiantly at a CCF rally: "This sort of propaganda … is an insult to the intelligence of the people of Saskatchewan."

Watch video HERE

The Check-Off: A precursor of medicare in Canada?

Chryssa McAlister
Dalhousie University
Peter Twohig
Saint Mary’s University
CMAJ • December 6, 2005

The public system of health care insurance that exists in Canada today was implemented nationally in 1968
and was greatly influenced by the 1964 Royal Commission on Health Services, headed by Justice Emmett Hall.

When, in his final report, Justice Hall described the evolution of health care in Canada, he made brief reference to a health insurance system that existed in the Glace Bay colliery district of Cape Breton. Known as the “Check-Off,”this was a mandatory system whereby deductions were made from miners’ wages for a subscription to physician services, medications and hospital care. A reference to the Check-Off in minutes of the Nova Scotia Provincial Workmen’s Association suggests that it dates from about 1883, although at least one other historical reference places its origin even earlier, in the mid-19th century. It proved to be a durable system, surviving in Cape Breton mining towns until 1969, when it was replaced by provincial medical insurance administered by Maritime Medical Care.

One of us (C.M.) was first introduced to the Check-Off system by a Halifax-based surgeon, Dr. Allan MacDonald,who had done some general practice locums in Glace Bay in the 1960s. He suggested an interview with Dr. Joe Roach, a veteran of the system, who at 83 was still seeing 11 000 to12 000 patients a year and doing regular house calls. In researching the Check-Off system and preparing a CBC Radio
documentary, C.M. gained information through recorded personal interviews with participants in the system, including patients, physicians, hospital administrators, politicians and union organizers. In this article, we convey the essence of the interviews; the unedited conversations can be accessed through the Dalhousie University Medical Humanities Webpage (

The Check-Off system reflected the paternalistic philosophy of the times.The coal company built and owned the houses in the town, the power plant, the water facility and the grocery stores. The employer deducted from each miner’s weekly pay the costs associated with daily life, including rent, water, sanitation, supplies, coal, company store bills and check-weighman  (The check-weighman would verify the weight of each miner’s load of coal to determine how much money he would make. Miners were paid according to the amount of coal they extracted each day.) The Check-Off evolved to include union dues, relief associations, and physician and hospital services.

Read more HERE. (pdf)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

"A rich man's tuberculosis"

Dr. Edward Livingstone Trudeau well said, “There is a rich man’s tuberculosis and a poor man’s tuberculosis.

The rich man recovers and the poor man dies.” This succinctly expresses the close embrace of economics and pathology.

~ Dr. Norman Bethune
(born: 1890-03-04 died: 1939-11-12 at age: 49)

Our History and the Struggle for Medicare

By Michael Finley
Saskatoon Community Clinic
Winter 2011

“The Community Clinics began as part of the struggle for Medicare. We should not forget that struggle, and the opposition to public health insurance.” That, according to Dr. John Bury, is one of the lessons we should carry forward from the history of our Clinic. “We should remember that victories for social justice always require struggle,” he said.

Dr. Bury was speaking at a forum on the “History of the Community Clinics and Medicare” at the at the Westside Clinic on October 19 and the Downtown Clinic on October 20. It was the first of three Community Clinic 101 sessions planned by the Member Services Committee. The session featured reminisces of the early years of the Clinic from Betsy Bury, the first Member Relations Director and Health Ombudsman; Dr. Bury, who came to the clinic in 1963, just one year after it opened its doors; and Joan Bell, who was active in the early years of the Prince Albert Community Clinic.

It was struggle that created medicare

By Shawn Whitney
Socialist Worker

SHAWN WHITNEY examines the roots of how our medicare system was won. He argues that it was struggle which created a decent healthcare system, and that only struggle will defend what we have today.

The achievement of medicare was the product of decades of struggles involving thousands of people.

In 1915 in the United States, the growing demands for medicare on both sides of the border found expression in a campaign by unions and supportive medical professionals. This campaign sparked a huge national debate over the issue. In the heat of the post-World War One upsurge, Mackenzie King promised on the 1919 campaign trail to institute a national health insurance program.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Politics of Canada's Health Care System

By Elaine Bernard
Executive Director
Harvard Trade Union Program

A widely used tactic in the current debate on health care reform in the U.S. has been to compare health care delivery in the U.S. with Canada's national health care system. For U.S. supporters of a national, universal, single payer health care system, the Canadian experience offers a working alternative which has been in operation for over 20 years.

While Americans are generally loathe to look at foreign institutions as models for domestic reform, the close geographic proximity of Canada and the similarities in values, institutions and outlook between the two countries makes Canada seem less foreign to Americans. Opponents of significant health care reform, are quick to warn of the evils of socialized medicine, even in Canada, arguing that the adoption of such a system will mean long waiting lists for surgery, increased government interference in the relationship between patients and doctors, tax increases, and general inferior medicine with less choice for patients.

With so much of the U.S. health care debate now pivoting on the "Canadian model," we think it is valuable to take a closer look at the origins of this system. In this article, we will look at the Canadian health care system with six questions in mind: why Canada? What exactly is the Canadian model? How was it achieved politically? What are some of the common myths about the Canadian model and what  is the current status of the system? Finally, what can Americans learn from the Canadian model?

Read more HERE. (pdf)