History of Canada’s Public Health Care


The Saskatchewan Government, led by leader Tommy Douglas, introduces the first provincial hospital insurance program In Canada.


Paul Martin Sr. introduces a national hospital insurance program. Doctors, insurance companies and big business fight against it.


– The Canadian Medical Association opposes all publicly funded health care.


Saskatchewan’s CCF government introduces the first public health care program. Doctors walk out but the strike collapses after 3 weeks.


A Royal Commission appointed by Diefenbaker government and headed by Justice Emmett Hall calls for a universal and comprehensive national health insurance program.


Pearson minority government creates a national public health care program with Ottawa paying 50% of provincial health costs. Prior to this point, doctors charged whatever they wanted and bankruptcy to pay for health care was..Read more


Trudeau Liberals retreat from 50:50 cost-sharing and replace it with block funding.


Doctors begin “extra-billing” to raise their incomes.


The Canadian Labour Congress sponsored the conference SOS Medicare in Montreal. The attendees included Tommy Douglas, Emmett Hall, David Crombie and Monique Bégin. The Canadian Health Coalition was founded at the conference, formed by organizations representing..Read more


Canada Health Act introduced by Trudeau’s health minister, Monique Begin, is passed unanimously by parliament. Extra-billing is banned. The act allows the federal government to deduct one dollar from federal transfers to any province for..Read more


Paul Martin Jr. introduces Canada Health and Social Transfer (CHST), causing massive cuts in transfer payments to health and social programs. Health Care spending drops from 10.2% (in 1992) to 9.2% of GDP.


Quebec introduces the country’s first mandatory pharmacare program.

Health Minister Allan Rock releases the final report of the Krever Commission that looked into the tainted blood scandal infection of thousands of Canadians with the AIDS virus and hepatitis C is Canada’s worst- ever..Read more

National Forum on Health calls for public health care to be expanded to include home care, Pharmacare and a phasing out of fee-for-service for doctors.


Premiers demand a say in interpreting and enforcing the Canada Health Act, in return for support on constitutional change.


Alberta Premier Ralph Klein announces his plan for private hospitals, with legislation to follow. Bill 11 is passed in 2000 and allows private clinics to specialize in a limited number of surgical operations.


Senator Michael Kirby, Board member of Extendicare Inc. and personally invested in for-profit nursing homes, attempts to trump the upcoming Romanow Commission by starting his own.


The Romanow Royal Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada conducted cross-country public hearings. Final report was tabled in Ottawa on November 28, 2002. It called for: Creation of the Health Council of..Read more


First Ministers’ meeting results in a ‘Health Accord.’ Targeted funding in keys areas (as prescribed by the Romanow report) shows promise. However, there are no accountability mechanisms and no strings attached (e.g. no restrictions on..Read more


Jacque Chaoulli wins Supreme Court of Canada case. Evidence from the lower courts was ignored. Resulted in increased calls for a two-tiered private insurance and for-profit health care delivery.


The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) elects Dr. Brian Day as President and begins a highly-public 4-year push to break Canada’s public health care system, and allowing extra-billing and double-dipping doctors. Split within CMA leads to..Read more


Outspoken advocate for private, for-profit health care, Dr. Brian Day, and the Cambie Surgical Centre faces serious charges after a group of patients filed a legal petition seeking to have the provincial government enforce provincial..Read more


Cambie Surgical Centre, the Specialist Referral Clinic and a consortium of other for-profit clinics, launched a constitutional challenge against the BC government.


The federal government makes cuts to the Interim Federal Health Programme, cutting off access to treatment for chronic diseases including hypertension, angina, diabetes, high cholesterol, and lung disease for refugees.


The federal government announces that it is terminating its funding of the Health Council of Canada. It was formed in 2003 following the Romanow Commission to provide the people of Canada with accountability, oversight, planning,..Read more


The Health Accord expires. Without it, federal funds are given to the provinces and the territories with no strings attached. This means provinces and territories can spend the money however they like, often resulting is..Read more

Justice Anne Mactavish of the Federal Court deemed the changes to the Interim Federal Health Programme “cruel and unusual” to refugees and ordered the federal government to reverse those changes and restore the programme to..Read more


The newly elected Trudeau government announces it withdraws the previous government’s appeal of the 2014 Federal Court decision that found Ottawa’s cuts to refugee health benefits were unconstitutional.


Despite the recommendations from the Krever Commission and evidence from other countries which show a donor-remunerated plasma system will directly compete with our voluntary system, the Federal government grants a licence for the opening of..Read more


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Canadian Health Coalition