Medicare adopted in Saskatchewan 50 years ago

Canada's 145th birthday is not the only milestone being marked in Saskatchewan today, for it has been 50 years since medicare was adopted in the province.

The Medical Care Insurance Act became law on July 1, 1962, making Saskatchewan the first province in Canada to introduce free public health care.

But the law prompted doctors to walk off the job for 23 days, in a showdown between the socialist CCF government and doctors who argued in favour of individual rights.

The legislation took effect on July 23, 1962, after representatives for the striking doctors accepted a negotiated settlement with the provincial government.

With the strike over, other provinces would pass their own medicare legislation.

A number of Saskatchewan communities have proclaimed July as Medicare month, including Saskatoon, Regina, Prince Albert, Moose Jaw and Swift Current.

As well, the Saskatoon Community Clinic is sponsoring a medicare birthday bash Tuesday evening at the Delta Bessborough that includes dramatic readings, cake and a walking tour.

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