Doctors On Strike? 1962 and the Birth of Canadian Medicare

In 1961, Saskatchewan CCF Premier Tommy Douglas moved to fulfill a campaign promise to provide universal medical care insurance— an effort that would produce fierce opposition from Saskatchewan’s doctors, culminating in a 23-day doctors’ strike in July of 1962. The program’s success resulted Canada-wide medicare coverage in 1968. What can be learned from this example, where progressive reforms were opposed by a well-resourced and entrenched establishment? Is this labour action by doctors — to defend their profits — an example of a bad strike? Why have efforts to expand medicare to include pharmacare and dental care stalled for so long?

Further reading:
Doctors’ Strike: Medical Care and Conflict in Saskatchewan (1967) by Robin F. Badgley and Samuel Wolfe
Bitter Medicine, Part One: The Birth of Medicare (NFB documentary)

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