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History: 1958-1968 PUBLIC OR PRIVATE? VOLUNTARY OR COMPULSORY? : HOSPITAL CARE FOR CANADIANS, 1948–1958 CONFLICT AND COMPROMISE: CREATING THE MEDICAL CARE AC, 1958–1968 FROM COST CONTROL TO HEALTH PROMOTION: IMPLEMENTING MEDICARE, 1968–1978



The Canadian Media Comment

Canadian papers and commentators were similarly critical. The Globe and Mail argued: “The doctors of Saskatchewan have taken an action which is not open to any individual within a democracy. They have deliberately decided to disobey a law of that province . . . none has the right to set himself above the law. That way can only lie anarchy, and the destruction of our democratic way of life.” Similarly, the Ottawa Citizen, the Montreal Star and the Winnipeg Free Press all condemned the doctors for failing to heed the voice of the people, while the Toronto Star commented that Ross Thatcher had tried to brand the Medical Care Insurance Act as communist and that this attempt should be rejected since Canada had up to this point managed to avoid the worst excesses of McCarthyism. But the most vehement criticism came from an unexpected source, the Financial Post, on July 14, 1962:

Whatever the medical politicians running the doctor strike think about the legislation, the strike they organized is an outrageous assault on organized society.

No profession has, of itself, dignity, integrity, or any claim to public esteem. Those attributes come to it only through the qualities of its members. The medicos should not believe they are immune to the sanctions which society imposes on everybody else.

Most of the western world has long since adopted the principle of insurance — regular saving to pay for unpredictable, painful or disastrous expense sometime in the future.

Do the Saskatchewan strike leaders think they can change the thinking, the practices and the attitudes of hundreds of millions of people?

The American Medical Association, which is the richest and most active lobby in Washington, may be delighted with the Saskatchewan performance.

Is anybody else? The striking Saskatchewan doctors in the months and years ahead will not be happy about their guinea-pigging for the AMA. (Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, The First Fight for Medicare [Regina, 1963], p. 17)
Photo: “Hey, fellas! Who’s winning?” The Government of Saskatchewan, The People, The Doctors?
“Hey, fellas! Who’s winning?” The Government of Saskatchewan, The People, The Doctors?

In the Vancouver Sun, Roy Peterson depicted the increasingly bitter struggle during the doctors’ strike in Saskatchewan in a surprisingly light-hearted way. The citizens, of course, suffer the most.
Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1994-415-6. © Roy Peterson.

In Saskatchewan, the government’s supporters formed local branches of Saskatchewan Citizens for Medical Care and shared their views through a weekly paper called Public Voice for Medical Care. They also sponsored the creation of community health centres whose focus on salaried service and group practice was expected to eliminate the “cash-register influence” in doctor–patient relationships and to look after “the entire health needs of the individual, the family and the community” (The First Fight for Medicare, p. 12). But this innovation was limited by medical opposition to admitting privileges to local hospitals or membership in local medical societies for clinic doctors.



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