Sunday June 14, 2015

After almost fifty years, is it time to revamp Canada's healthcare system?

Listen to Full Episode 1:53:00
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50th Anniversary Edition: Half a century ago a cross-country open-line radio program was created to let the nation talk about a radical Saskatchewan idea going national -- medicare.

Fifty years on, we are still talking. How is health care in Canada?  Is it time for a re-think? 

Live from the Health Sciences Building of the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.

Read More: The Birth of Cross Country Checkup

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...That, as you might have noticed, is not our regular beginning to Cross Country Checkup ...but it was the beginning 50 years ago on May 16th, 1965 when the very first episode of Checkup went to air.

The topic was health care. In 1965 it was the question that dominated public discourse. Should Canada bring in a publicly-funded universal health care system?

Justice Emmett Hall had just finished his extensive Royal Commission on health services ...and his recommendation was a resounding, 'yes.' Some people cheered, others thought it would bankrupt the country, or even worse, turn us into a nation of dependents.

Saskatchewan was in the forefront of this debate showing how it could be done. In the years prior, it led the other provinces with programs that offered support for hospital bills, which in those days could prove ruinous. In 1962, after facing down its striking doctors, Saskatchewan extended that support to cover doctors bills.

So, when Saskatchewan talks health care, the rest of Canada takes notice. And that is the reason that we are here in Saskatoon the Health Sciences Building of the University of Saskatchewan.

The public discussion following the Hall report encouraged CBC to create a national radio phone-in program to let Canadians across the country share their ideas.

The next year in 1965 the federal government passed the Medical Care Act ...or Medicare, which established universal health care across the country.

And, fifty years later, we're still talking about it.

How is the health care system doing half-a-century on? Many say it's time for a revamp; that the needs and the expectations of Canadians have changed dramatically since that time.

With an aging population do we need less hospital care and more homecare? Can we sustain health budgets that grow at three times the rate of inflation? How can we get more out of the resources we have? Should the focus be shifted more to prevention? These are just a few of many questions being asked by Canadians.

Our question today: "After almost fifty years, is it time to revamp Canada's healthcare system?"

I'm Rex Murphy ...on CBC Radio One ...and on Sirius XM, satellite radio channel 169 ...this is Cross Country Checkup live from Saskatoon.


Janice MacKinnon
​Former Minister of Finance for Saskatchewan, now Professor of History and Public Policy at the University of Saskatchewan. She is the author of a report called "Healthcare Reform From the Cradle of Medicare."

Margaret Tompson
Cancer survivor, retired Occupational Therapist who practised many years in Saskatchewan.

Maureen Klenk
​Nurse practitioner at Lutheran Special Care Home in Regina. President of the Canadian Association of Advanced Practice Nurses. First nurse practitioner in Saskatchewan (2004).

Dan Florizone
​President and CEO Saskatoon Health Region.