The Canadian health care system was founded on an egalitarian principle of shared values, and respect for individuals as ends in themselves. The idea of Medicare as a publicly funded, and equally shared health insurance system was established in Saskatchewan by premier Tommy Douglas in 1946. Initially administered to great success within the province, the provisions of Medicare were quickly assimilated at a federal level, and in 1957 became legislation under the Hospital Insurance and Diagnostic Services Act. This first step towards universal health care offered provincial governments a fifty percent reimbursement for programs adopted within the framework of the public model.i Conceived through an assessment of ethical and social responsibilities, Douglas' adamant support for Medicare was inspired by the democratic appeal for greater social justice initiatives. As explained in a 1961 interview when asked why government is best fit to deliver health care over private insurance companies, Douglas replied: "No private plan can take cognizance of a family's ability to pay; only government can levy taxes on that basis." He would later go on to explain that "most plans, in order to stay solvent, have to eliminate a great many [destitute] groups of peopleand these are precisely the people who need some kind of protection."ii The Canada Health Act of 1984, to which provincial governments contractually adhere to until this day, in order to receive federal funding for provincial medical insurance, is a child of the HIDS act and a result of Douglas' fraternal regard for the well-being of all Canadian citizens. .
The debate of private versus public health care is fundamentally a philosophical one which has been politicized by characterizing the issue as free market capitalism versus socialism, or upper middle class favouritism versus working class marginalization. This paper will attempt to do away with the insistence on economic solvency, which is so often singled out as a primary mechanism through which politicians and intellectuals will often gauge an otherwise moral dilemma.