CBC Digital Archives

Tommy Douglas, Canada's father of medicare

Since Tommy Douglas helped usher in Canada's medicare system in 1967, it has earned the envy of the international community. Many Canadians see free public health care as the hallmark of what Pierre Elliott Trudeau called "The Just Society." Yet, as the medicare debate has proven, it's a system that is not without its flaws or opponents.

On June 15, 1944, with Canadian troops engaged in the opening stages of the battle to free Europe from the Nazis, a landslide election victory gives Saskatchewan's Co-operative Commonwealth Federation the green light to proceed with radical social justice initiatives like publicly funded health care for all. Led by T.C. (Tommy) Douglas, a Baptist minister turned politician, the CCF's slogan is "Humanity First," a comment on the party's belief that the common good should supersede private interests.
. Tommy Douglas was born in Falkirk, Scotland, on Oct. 20, 1904, and immigrated to Canada with his parents after the First World War. Douglas excelled in many areas of interest, including drama, debating and boxing, in which he was a flyweight champion.

. While Douglas is widely regarded as the father of medicare, Matt Anderson initiated the first health care program in the municipality of McKillop, Sask. Anderson's plan, which was later passed as the "Matt Anderson Bill" in 1939, allowed for access to a municipal doctor, 21 days of hospital care, and prescription drugs for an annual fee of five dollars.
Medium: Television
Program: Close-Up
Broadcast Date: July 22, 1962
Interviewer: Tom Koch
Duration: 1:13

Last updated: October 1, 2013

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

All Clips from this Topic

Related Content

Tommy Douglas and the NDP

Tommy Douglas was the most influential politician never to be elected Prime Minister. He pursu...

The Birth of Medicare

Since Tommy Douglas helped usher in Canada's medicare system in 1967, it has earned the envy o...

1986: Tommy Douglas dead at 81

Stephen Lewis eulogizes Tommy Clement Douglas, the father of medicare who has died at the age ...

And the Greatest Canadian of all time is...

Canada's choice for the greatest Canadian is revealed in a live TV broadcast.

The fight to get IVF covered by health care

A Nova Scotia couple mounts a legal challenge on behalf of the many couples who can't afford I...

Tommy Douglas and the NDP: Kiefer Sutherland ...

My grandfather's legacy is being bloodletted, warns actor Kiefer Sutherland at a medicare rall...