Saskatchewan Health Survey, 1949– 51

In July 1948, the government of Canada allotted Saskatchewan $43,506 to survey “present health services and facilities” in preparation for an eventual national health insurance program. A committee of twelve had one representative each from the following: registered nurses, dentists, urban municipalities, rural municipalities, labour, the hospital association, the farmers’ union, and the Swift Current Health Region; there were also two medical doctors: G.G. Ferguson (registrar of the Saskatchewan College of Physicians and Surgeons) and C.J. Houston. Dr. Fred Mott was chair, and Dr. Malcolm G. Taylor was research director and secretary. The diverse group met amicably; as each question came up, it was hammered out to the point of agreement. No minority report was submitted, nor were interim reports supplied to the organizations that each member represented. After more than two years’ work and twenty-five meetings, the two-volume report contained a catalogue of Saskatchewan’s health resources and an estimate of future needs. Saskatchewan’s report was exemplary for both the co-operative spirit of the endeavour and the completeness and unanimity of the report. Of 115 recommendations, the first was that “a comprehensive health insurance program should be undertaken at the earliest possible date.”

C. Stuart Houston