Saskatchewan's struggle for medicare

How Saskatchewan became the frontier for Canada's national health care system.

Welcome to the Leader-Post's multimedia timeline on the history of medicare. ;xNLx;;xNLx;In this timeline you'll find a detailed list of key events that led to the creation of Saskatchewan's medicare system. To navigate the timeline, you can drag the viewfinder at the bottom of the screen left or right. You can also go to specific events by clicking anywhere on the scale at the bottom of the screen. ;xNLx;Entries on the timeline contain information on that event, as well as photos.

1944-06-15 14:24:52

CCF party wins landslide

Led by Tommy Douglas, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) is elected into office in a majority win over the Liberal party. The CCF won the election with 47 seats, while the Liberals won just five. After taking power, the CCF would begin to institute health care polices that would act as the precursors of medicare.

1946-11-10 08:17:24

Hospital insurance services plan

The Douglas government creates a province-wide insurance plan to cover the cost of each residents' stay in a Saskatchewan hospital. The hospital services would later be viewed as the beginning of the CCF's plan to provide a health care service that would guarantee access for all residents.

1959-04-25 08:17:24

Douglas' vision

During a CCF nomination meeting in Birch Hills, Premier Douglas announced the government's plan for a tax-payer funded, universal medical care program.

1959-10-29 18:26:50

Doctors weary of plans

At a meeting in Saskatoon, the Saskatchewan College of Physicians and Surgeons passes a resolution opposing the introduction of a compulsory, government-controlled medicare plan. However, doctors support the extension of health and sickness benefits through insurance plans.

1959-12-16 18:26:50

Douglas presents the plan for medicare

While speaking during a radio broadcast, Douglas outlines the government's medicare program. "If we can do this -- then I would like to hazard a prophecy that, before 1970, almost every other province in Canada will have followed the lead of Saskatchewan, and we shall have a national health insurance program from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

1960-04-26 18:26:50

Advisors appointed

A 12-member advisory committee is appointed to help create the government's medicare program. Former University of Saskatchewan president W.P. Thompson is appointed chair of the committee, which leads it to become known as the Thompson Committee. The purpose of the committee was to represent all of those who would be affected by the new legislation. Members travelled to countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Denmark to study other existing health insurance programs.

1960-05-03 18:26:50

CPSS officially opposes medicare

The Saskatchewan College of Physicians and Surgeons issues a statement opposing the government's medicare "scheme".

1960-06-08 18:26:50

CCF wins 'medicare election'

The CCF wins another majority government in what is referred to as the medicare election of 1961, as the debate over health care was a key issue in the election.

1961-09-25 18:26:50

Comittee makes reccomendation

The Douglas government's advisory committee delivers its recommendation: a compulsory and comprehensive medicare plan for residents of the province.

1961-10-02 18:26:50

Medicare system presented

The Saskatchewan Medical Care insurance act is introduced in the province's legislature.

1961-11-07 18:26:50

Douglas goes to NDP, Lloyd becomes premier

Tommy Douglas moves on to become leader of the federal NDP, while Woodrow Lloyd replaces him as premier of Saskatchewan.

1961-11-17 18:26:50

Medicare passes at legislature

The Saskatchewan Medical Care Insurance Act is passed by the CCF government.

1962-01-01 18:26:50

Tax changes take effect

Income, sales and corporate taxes are raised in order to cover the costs of the medicare plan, which are expected to run up to $21 million per year.

1962-03-03 18:26:50

Medicare launch date moved

Although medicare was initially set to launch on April 1, negotiations with Saskatchewan's doctors delay its debut to July 1.

1962-03-27 18:26:50

Gov't holds talks with doctors

Sask. doctors and the government hold the first in a series of discussions to try and overcome the deadlock between the two sides on the issue of medicare.

1962-04-02 18:26:50

Citizens protest the plan

The possibility of doctors withholding services if medicare is instituted leads to the formation of various citizen groups who are in favour or opposed to the plan . The largest and most vocal group is the Keep Our Doctors (KOD) committee, which presses for a delay in implementing the plan and backs the doctors. The KOD holds rallies in June and July to protest medicare.

1962-04-14 18:26:50

Gov't amends medicare act

The Sask. government amends the Medicare Act so doctors will be paid directly through the Medicare Insurance Commission, rather than having the patient pay and wait to be reimbursed.

1962-05-03 18:26:50

Minister Erb resigns, doctors plan for action

Former health minister Walter Erb, then public works minister, resigns from government saying he can't go along with the medicare plan. Meanwhile, some 600 doctors hold a two-day meeting in Regina and make plans to only provide emergency care services if the plan goes ahead unchanged.

1962-05-30 18:26:50

KOD delivers petition

A motorcade of about 400 vehicles carrying members of the KOD committees from around the province travels to the Saskatchewan Legislative Building. A delegation of 100 KOD members presents Premier Lloyd and cabinet members with petitions calling for the government to delay the implementation of medicare. Approximately 46,000 names were signed to the petitions.

1962-06-18 18:26:50

Douglas defeated

Tommy Douglas loses his Regina riding during the federal election, as do 16 other NDP candidates in Saskatchewan.

1962-06-22 18:26:50

Gov't makes offer to doctors

Sask. doctors and the government's cabinet meet in Regina for a last-minute attempt to reach a settlement. At the end of the talks, the government offers to allow doctors to practice privately with government reimbursement of patients who pay their own bills.

1962-06-26 18:26:50

Doctors reject govt's offer

The CPSS turns down the government's proposal, maintaining that it won't stand up legally. Meanwhile, the province turns down the CPSS' request to delay the start of medicare further.

1962-07-01 18:26:50

Medicare rolls out, doctors take action

The medicare plan takes effect. Afterwards, most of Saskatchewan's doctors withdraw all but emergency services, which are provided by a contingent of doctors at 34 hospitals.

1962-07-02 18:26:50

Province pages British doctors

The Saskatchewan government brings in medical practitioners from Britain to replace doctors currently engaged in labour action.

1962-07-11 18:26:50

KOD rallies in Regina

The Keep Our Doctors (KOD) movement stages a rally at the Saskatchewan Legislative Building in Regina to protest medicare. Between 4,000 and 5,000 people are estimated to have taken part in the rally.

1962-07-16 18:26:50

Settling the doctor strike

Lord Stephen Taylor, a British doctor and MP, arrives in Saskatchewan to help mediate negotiations between the government and the doctors. Taylor was also one of the minds behind Britain's National Health Service. From July 16-23, Taylor helps work out a deal between the two parties.

1962-07-23 18:26:50

Gov't and doctors reach agreement

An agreement is finally reached on July 23, 1962. Despite pleas from doctors for the Saskatchewan Medical Care Insurance Act to be dismantled, the plan would remain in place. However, doctors were given the option to opt out of the plan. The settlement also allowed private insurance plans to remain valid.

1962-08-02 18:26:50

New medicare act passes into law

A new version of the Medical Care Insurance Act based on concessions made during the government's settlement with doctors in July is passed into law at the Saskatchewan Legislature.

Saskatchewan's struggle for medicare

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