Social Assistance Health Services Plan

This plan, implemented on January 1, 1945, was the first comprehensive, provincial social assistance health services scheme established in Canada. It provided pensioners and other welfare recipients with both medical and hospital services free of charge, and was the Douglas government’s first step towards the establishment of universal hospital and medical care programs in Saskatchewan. The basic principles of the medical component were devised during a single amicable evening in Regina by Premier Douglas and representatives of the medical profession on August 23, 1944. The plan was administered by the Department of Health—unlike the scheme introduced in Ontario in 1935, and later in Alberta, British Columbia, and Nova Scotia, each of which was administered by the appropriate provincial medical association. The Douglas administration insisted that the management of public funds must remain the responsibility of a government accountable to the people. The program provided valuable administrative experience for the province’s universal hospital and medical services plans.

Gordon Lawson