Making Medicare:  The History of Health Care in Canada, 1914-2007 Back to Timeline Back to Timeline
History: 1948-1958 NATIONAL SYSTEM, NATIONAL FAILURE? : WAR, RECONSTRUCTION AND HEALTH SECURITY FOR CANADIANS, 1939–1948 PUBLIC OR PRIVATE? VOLUNTARY OR COMPULSORY? : HOSPITAL CARE FOR CANADIANS, 19481958 CONFLICT AND COMPROMISE: CREATING THE MEDICAL CARE AC, 1958–1968



Making Health Care Policy in the 1950s

But why choose hospital care? For many Canadians, hospitals represented the best that medical science had to offer, because they were now seen as centres of life-saving operations and critical care. But the services provided were also a significant expense, especially if the patient required lengthy care and medical treatment. And as we will see, private efforts to prepay hospital expenses through purchasing individual or group insurance policies often failed to provide the necessary coverage in times of need. In fact, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Alberta had all pioneered different types of government-supported hospital insurance between 1947 and 1950, and the success of the Saskatchewan model in conjunction with rising demand ultimately persuaded Ontario to respond favourably to federal proposals to create a national hospital insurance program.

Photo: “Step on it, pal, I need the scissors” Hospital Expansion, Hospital Needs
“Step on it, pal, I need the scissors” Hospital Expansion, Hospital Needs

This cartoon from the early 1950s, when hospitals had become the place of choice for life-saving operations, modern medical care and childbirth, shows that many people supported the building and expansion of hospitals.
© Merle Tingley. From 25 Years in an Inkwell: Ting Cartoons, 1948–1973, with text by John K. Elliott (London, Ontario: The London Free Press, 1974), p. 96.

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    Date Created: March 31, 2010 | Last Updated: April 21, 2010