In 1936, the Saskatchewan Medical Association merged with the Council of the College of Physicians and Surgeons to create a unique body, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan (CPSS), which regulated the medical profession on behalf of the public and promoted the doctors’ economic interests. Its leaders recognized the growing demand for health insurance, but by 1960 they strongly objected to the principles that the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) proposed. Instead, the CPSS argued that the public had the right to decide “whether or not they wish to prepay the cost of physicians’ services; the insuring company or agency; [and] the comprehensiveness of coverage” (Malcolm G. Taylor, Health Insurance and Canadian Public Policy: The Seven Decisions That Created the Canadian Health Insurance System and Their Outcomes [Montréal and Kingston: McGill–Queen’s University Press, 1987], p. 279).
After the legislation was passed and the Saskatchewan Medical Care Insurance Commission was created, Dr. H. D. Dalgleish, the President of the CPSS, stated: “We regard this Act as a form of civil conscription . . . and an attempt to put us under the control of government by political and economic pressure” (A. W. Johnson, Dream No Little Dreams: A Biography of the Douglas Government of Saskatchewan, 1944–1961 [Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004], p. 275). As Dr. E. W. Barootes, one of the doctors’ negotiators in 1962, recalled in 1992: “It was the fear of the unknown that drove us at the time . . . We were afraid it [medicare] would destroy the profession. We were afraid that our integrity would be destroyed. We were afraid that the government would intrude on the private doctor–patient relationship” (Patrick Nagle, “Tragedy Marked Medicare’s First Day,” Toronto Star [June 19, 1992]: A24). He also noted that their fears of becoming civil servants were not realized, but that their concerns about rising costs had proved well founded.