Saskatchewan's 1962 Medicare Strike


In Saskatchewan 50 years ago, the province was in the grip of a controversy that lead to fears of violence. The issue was medicare: It came into existence there on July 1st, 1962. The same day, doctors went on strike, beginning a 23 day standoff with the government. We revisit the birthplace of Medicare in Canada and rediscover the truth: that it was a messy, troubling, divisive moment that pitted physicians against politicians.

Saskatchewan's 1962 Medicare Strike

In the summer of 1962, the Saskatchewan Doctors' strike brought a bitter fight over medicare to a head. The labour dispute was triggered on July 1st, when Canada's first universal health care plan, the Saskatchewan Medical Care Insurance Act, took effect.

Doctors walked off the job and stayed off for more than three weeks. Patients panicked, worried about who would care for them in an emergency. And the provincial government stood its ground, determined to make the new law stick. For three weeks that stand-off produced protests, fear ... even threats of violence.

Today, we're looking back on how those events shaped the health care we know today. The CBC's Sean Prpick tells the story through the eyes of two families who were on opposite sides of the issue. His documentary, Days of Decision first aired on The Current in July, 50 years after the dispute.

Dr. Noel Doig's memoir of Saskatchewan's medicare crisis is called Setting The Record Straight.

Music Bridge

Cd: Tosca: Dehli 9
Cut: # 7, Dave Dudley
Label: !K7 Records
Spine: CD 140

Shannon Moroney Promo

The Current is marking our tenth anniversary this season. And to celebrate, we've chosen ten of our best interviews of the last decade. We'll be bringing you all ten of those interviews over the holidays. On Monday, we'll have Anna Maria's interview with Shannon Moroney.

You can find them all our top ten interviews any time, on our 10th anniversary website.

Other segments from today's show:

The End of Baby Boxes

Shin Dong-hyuk: Escape from Camp 14

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