Burak, William James (1905–76)

William Burak was born at Goodeve on April 1, 1905. In 1943 or 1944, as municipal secretary of RM Pittville at Hazlet, he learned of the “Matt Anderson” Health Plan at RM McKillop at Strasbourg, visited Strasbourg, and initiated a similar plan for RM Pittville.

In August 1945, Dr. Mindel Sheps came to Swift Current. She conveyed Premier T.C. Douglas’ desire that the Swift Current region become the regional demonstration unit for preventive medicine only; Burak instead proposed that the region offer “complete medical, surgical and hospital services.” A “mover and shaker,” as Lester Jorgenson called him, Burak was appointed a committee of one to sound out the adjacent municipalities. At his own expense, never reimbursed, he sent out information, visited weekly newspapers and municipal councils, and called a meeting for September 15, 1945, attended by representatives from 48 RMs, towns, and villages. On November 26, 1945, residents of the southwest voted for Burak’s more comprehensive plan. The Douglas government somewhat reluctantly acceded to this “fast-tracking” of universal hospital and medical care for the region. It came into force on July 1, 1946, two full years in advance of Great Britain’s National Health Insurance Plan. Burak was not appointed secretary of Swift Current Health Region #1. Disappointed, he moved to Ogema, Aberdeen, and Hafford as municipal secretary. He died in Saskatoon on June 8, 1976.

C. Stuart Houston