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Week 7.docx

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North American Studies
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Kevin Spooner

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Week 7: Tommy Douglas: Canada and Health Care February 27, 2013 Tommy Douglas (1904-1986)  Born in Scotland, immigrated to Winnipeg at age 6  WW1 – family moved back to Scotland o Father fought with the British  These years in Winnipeg led to a lifelong commitment to democratic socialism o It is compatible with capitalism – seeks to reform but not abolish it o It promotes the welfare state – supports the idea that there should be some fiscal redistribution within society (helps the less prosperous)  Pension, employment insurance, welfare  At age on 10 hospitalized – several knee operations (none successful) o Family didn’t have money to consult with a specialist, doctors said only chance was to have his leg amputated o Luckily, surgeon visiting his community during this time who offered to operate on Douglas for free if his students could watch o This contributed to Douglas’s belief that healthcare should be equitable  They come back, father becomes a laborer o Family struggles financially – Douglas never able to attend school regularly, had to work at a young age  Winnipeg General Strike (1919) o “Bloody Saturday” o Douglas watching this event – police charge on group of strikers and kill two men  Douglas was also religious – they complement his political beliefs o Enrolled in Baptist church college and becomes a minister o Dedicated his life to the “social gospel”  Version of Christianity – concerned as much as with social justice now, as with what comes after death  Great Depression (1929-35) o He moves to Saskatchewan (one of hardest hit areas in the entire country) o Hardships that he witnesses convince him that only political action is the answer to these economic hardships o Joins the Cooperative Commonwealth Confederation (CCF)  Morphs into the modern day NDP  Election of 1935 – wins a seat in the federal government representing CCF  Mid 1940s, returns to provincial politics from federal politics o Takes over leadership of CCF party in Saskatchewan o Was premier for 17 years o His was the first ever socialist government in North America – came to be known as innovative and efficient o In first term as premier, his gov’t passed 100 laws, developed infrastructure, paid down debt, passed labour legislations  1960s – goes back to federal politics to lead the federal CCF party  But before he left Saskatchewan, the last most important thing he does is introduce a provincial system of Medicare o Does so in the face of tremendous opposition  Leads NDP until early 1970s, and even after until 1979 stays an active participant o Then leaves and dies of cancer in 1986 Medicare  BC and Saskatchewan = first to provide universal hospital insurance  Alberta and Newfoundland follow soon after with partial coverage  By late 50s, Ottawa is saying to all the provinces that it wants to institute a national plan of hospital insurance o Majority of provinces had to agree and sign on,
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