Issues: Historical Overview Of Health Care In Canada

By on October 25, 2016

Submitted. During the Second World War it was clear that the medical system in place was

not adequate for Canadians and there was a dire need for a universal-health care system.

“The dismal state of health services across the country fueled demand for state action

.” The idea of a national universal-health care system had been

discussed among several groups at this time. “Polls suggested that a national medicare

scheme was the most popular reform discussed during the Second World War and its

aftermath”. Many individuals that needed medical attention and

treatment were forced into debt or could not get treatment due to the high cost of medical

care. “In 1939 The National Committee for Mental Hygiene reported 10 per cent of

Canadians could comfortably play for their medical services in a free-market system

while 25 per cent where completely dependent of charity; the remaining 65 per cent could

pay for normal services but were forced into debt or rejection of treatment if an operation

or long-term care was required .” Popular support for medicare

became widespread across Canada with 80 percent of Canadians expressing their support.

The Catholic Church was opposed to the idea of medicare and believed that a socialistic

approach to health care posed a threat to individualism and Church control of social

services .

In 1944, Tommy Douglas was elected premier of Saskatchewan and introduced

Medicare in Saskatchewan. He was the leader of a new party called the Co-operative

Commonwealth Federation (CCF) and moved forward with plans to create universal

hospital insurance and tax funded hospitalization insurance . Tommy

Douglas is now remembered as the father of medicare .

The Canadian Medical Association Business and physicians in Saskatchewan

were outraged and waged a propaganda campaign against the CCF plan. This resulted in

a 22-day strike by physicians; the strike ended with a negotiation between the

Saskatchewan branch of the Canadian Medical Association . “There would

be no salaries for doctors or payments by the number of patients that they served .” The doctors agreed to a universal state program and the government

agreed that fees for services would remain and doctors remained practicing in their

private offices.

When Medicare was introduced in Saskatchewan in 1960 it fueled growing

demands across Canada for universal medical insurance that put pressure on the federal

political parties to include this on their platforms. “Saskatchewan had played a

pioneering role in the provision of medical services in Canada .”

The British Columbia Medical Association was opposed to this and argued that money on

a national plan would be better spent on other things, such as scholarships for medical

students and to rehabilitate chronically ill children in hospitals . The issue

of a universal medical plan in Canada continued to be a debated topic. “Health care

providers, such as doctors, dentists, and pharmacy owners, had a common interest in

establishing a high price for their services, and happily confounded private provision with

competition and efficient pricing .”

Pierre Elliott Trudeau was elected as prime minister in 1968. All provinces with
the exception of Quebec developed plans that met the criteria of the Medical Services

Act. Quebec developed a plan that met the criteria with the Medical Services Act in 1972


The Conservative Party of Canada and Health Care

The Conservative party of Canada is a right wing political party that claim that

they are committed to an accessible, publicly funded, universal health care system

. It is noted on the website that they have increased funding to

record levels and that the funding will grow from $30 billion per year in 2013-2014, to

more than $38 billion per year in 2018-2019, to $40 billion by the end of the decade


The Conservatives outline what that they done to take action to improve the

health of Canadians. They have expanded health-related tax relief under the GST/HST

and income tax systems. They have also introduced a plan that offers financial aid for

Canadians caring for sick relatives by removing the claim limit for medical expenses

. The Conservatives have also introduced health promotion

programs that focus on education and awareness on healthy eating. As well, they have

made it easier for Canadians to access Over-the-Counter drugs .

In the health ministers health portfolio there are currently no progressive

initiatives that will impact the health of Canadians. In the health portfolio the following

is mentioned:

Under the Conservative Ideology the belief is that inequality is a natural state of

people in the country. They believe that competition is the best way to promote profit that

benefit individuals that are the hardest working. This rationale reflects the Conservatives’

policies as they try to push the private sector in health care. I feel that this is a limitation

and that this would be detrimental for Canadians that rely on universal health-care.

New Democrats Party of Canada (NDP) and Healthcare

The New Democrats (NDP) are a left wing political party. I respect the party’s

position because their policies are socially democratic and socially supportive for all

Canadian citizens. NDP Party members feel that all Canadians are entitled

accessible, quality healthcare. They remain committed, like their forefather, Tommy

Douglas to the principal of universal health and ensuring the sustainability of Canada’s

health-care system.

Under the current NDP leader the party focuses on four priority

areas: improving access to prescription medication, home and long-term care services,

the role of healthcare professionals, and how to assist all Canadians in leading a healthier

life. The party includes that prescription drugs could more affordable for Canadians if the

federal government reviewed how the patented medications review board reviewed

establishes the prices of new drugs and if they ensured the international trade agreements

do not increase drug costs. Many individuals who need long-term care facilities fill up

hospital beds and emergency rooms. The NDP wants to support informal caregivers and

expand long-term care services. The party wants to ensure there are an adequate number

of health care professionals in communities. I really appreciated that The NDP focuses on

prevention and that they acknowledge that proper living conditions support good health.

This includes: decent incomes, food, housing, strong social safety net and improving

aboriginal living conditions .

The NDP criticize the Conservative government for not recognizing foreign

credentials. This is a problem because approximately 5 million Canadians do not have

family doctors . They criticize Harper for not making the Health Accord a

priority and that he failed to meet his commitments that include: the national

pharmaceutical strategy, Home care, Electronic health records and wait times .

Liberal party of Canada and Healthcare

A strength of the Liberal Party of Canada platform is that it includes a Family

Care tax benefit Plan for low and middle class families that would enable people to take

time off work to care for family members. “Liberals believe that public health care can be

improved by innovative public solutions, such as increased supports for family caregivers

.” The Liberals acknowledge the aging population and committed to fund

research for dementia that includes: awareness, prevention and income security issues
. The Liberal party is committed to improving health care in rural

communities; investing in health promotions through promoting exercise, health eating

and nutrition, regulating foods and better food labelling .

The Liberal party criticizes the Conservative government for neglecting health

care in Canada and for not responding to or addressing the Health Accord follow up

process (Liberal, 2013). They criticize the Conservative government for out of control

spending on prisons, fighter jets and corporate tax breaks .

The Green Party of Canada and Healthcare

A strength of The Green party of Canada is that their vision focuses on long term

and preventable solutions. “Rather than using short-term, band aid fixes to health care,

the Green Party will focus on long-term, preventable solutions to the health care needs of

Canadians .” The Green Party supports a universal health care system

and is opposed to privatization. “Elizabeth May reaffirmed the Green Party’s

commitment to rebuild Canada’s health care system, stop creeping privatization, and

prevent the establishment of a two-tier system .” The Green Party

acknowledges the obesity epidemic and wants to increase physical activity for all

Canadians by investing 500 million dollars over 5 years to address this (Green Party,

2013). Elizabeth May’s platform on health care was disappointing because it did not

address the…(limitations)


In Canada, we are respected for our universal health care system. There is a

commonality that all of the four federal parties analyzed share in that they support

universal health care. However, the Conservative government has shown support for

privatized health care and there has some movement towards this with allowing private

health clinics to provide specific services and does not intervene with some provinces

offering private health clinics.

The current federal policies do not recognize the needs of the majority of

Canadians, they are more supportive for high income earners. The Conservatives do not

take into consideration the marginalized population that fall through the cracks in society,

many of whom that are in dire need of support are stigmatized. I prefer the New

Democratic platform because the NDP see the value in every human being and feel that

maintaining health services for all, regardless of their income is essential.

It is the governments responsibility to create policies that address the issues

Canada is facing that are causing inadequate health care. There needs to be an

accessibility of adequate support for families in need and to support families in assisting

them with health care and resources so they are getting the most support possible. The

government needs to advocate for individuals and their families and be fully committed

to ensure that all individuals have an opportunity for a healthy future, success and

longevity. We need to protect those who are marginalized and fall through the cracks.

The government needs to investigate the barriers attributed to accessing care. Through

adequate universal health-care, families can be provided with the means to ensure every

Canadian has what they need to thrive.

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