Medicare in Saskatchewan

Tommy Douglas proposed the idea of medicare when he first came to power as leader of the Cooperative Commonweath Federation (CCF), Saskatchewan's first social democratic government. In 1944, the CCF gained power in Saskatchewan and Premier Douglas made it his priority to introduce state-sponsored medical care. It was not until 18 years later that his dream would become reality. Physicians were adamantly opposed to state-sponsored medical care and delayed the process considerably. When the government did finally decide to go ahead, many physicians withdrew services. To take the place of striking physicians, the government imported doctors from Great Britain.

Of course, not all of Saskatchewan's physicians withdrew their services - some were in favour of medicare. Those that were in favour of the program grouped together and opened community clinics. Many of these clinics are still in existence today.

Eventually the other physicians did go back to work, finally accepting the medicare program, although there were some that left the province for good and others that did not return to practice. Many of the physicians brought as stand-ins from Great Britain stayed.

The implementation of medicare affected the entire population. Some citizens were passionate about medicare and some were passionate in opposing it. Others who needed medical care during the famous doctors' strike could not get the care that they needed. Some hospitals even required patients to sign a release form that released the hospital of its responsibility should the patient not receive proper care. Finally, the strike and the beginnings of medicare affected other health care workers, including the nurses.