October 15, 1979 (31st Parliament, 1st Session)


Robert Joseph Ogle

New Democratic Party

Mr. Ogle:

From that beginning in Saskatchewan in 1962 the notion of a medicare scheme spread to other provinces. However, that came after. Because there was a problem of magnitude-medicare would affect everybody-a former prime minister, now deceased, the Right Hon. John Diefenbaker, made an historic decision and appointed in 1961 Mr. Justice Emmett Hall to study the health needs of Canadians. I believe the resulting report should seriously be looked at again by all Canadians because that document outlines the basics of medicare.
Some of the recommendations in that report have been put into effect, but many have never yet been attempted. There are visions in that document which have not really come to light anywhere as yet, but I invite one and all to look again at that document. In the document there were four basic principles which were necessary to have a medicare scheme function. The first was that there should be comprehensive coverage; everyone should be in the scheme. The second principle was that there should be universal availability; that it would be possible for everybody to receive health care. The third was that there should be portable benefits; one could travel from one place to another and still be taken care of. Finally, it should be administered by a central, non-profit administration. That has worked, more or less, in different places and in different ways, but in the last year or so I feel that obvious cracks have begun to appear in the system. Doctors are now opting out, which has a different wording in different places. There is double billing or something else, which is to say that the system is not being followed. Premiums are now going to be charged in Newfoundland, for instance, which again goes against the very basic nature of the medicare idea.
When things like this begin to happen, we have a dangerous situation on our hands. To draw an analogy, the four principles to which 1 referred could be regarded as something like the legs of a chair. If one leg of a chair was shorter than the others, the chair would be wobbly and a very uncomfortable place to sit. If one began to cut the legs so that a balance could be obtained by giving up a part of one of the legs, the chair really would not become balanced. A more critical situation would develop, finally causing the person sitting on the chair- and I do not know what words I can use in the House-to fall to the floor. That is what will happen with the medicare scheme and plan unless something of a drastic nature is done to stop the erosion that is taking place.

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