A much-admired political figure, Tommy Douglas laid the foundations for a national medicare program
REGINA, March 7, 2019 /CNW/ - Thomas Clement "Tommy" Douglas is an icon associated with the implementation of Canada-wide public health care, a program that remains deeply tied to Canadian identity and values to this day.
Today, the Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and Member of Parliament for Regina—Wascana, commemorated the national historic significance of Thomas Clement "Tommy" Douglas with a plaque unveiling ceremony. The announcement was made on behalf of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Catherine McKenna.
A Baptist pastor, fiery orator, and human rights activist, Tommy Douglas was drawn to political life by the human struggles he witnessed in Saskatchewan during the 1930s. Believing that political action was the best way to improve the lives of Canadians, Douglas helped found and led the first social democratic government in North America, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF).
Serving five terms as the Premier of Saskatchewan from 1944 to 1961, his government created an ambitious and innovative program of social reform that included the introduction of labour and human rights codes, and a new approach to relations between Indigenous Peoples and government. Douglas was also an important influence on the development of medicare in Canada, building on the Saskatchewan tradition of co-operative values to implement the first publicly funded, universally accessible hospital insurance plan in 1947.
In 1961, Douglas returned to federal politics as leader of the newly-created New Democratic Party (NDP), an alliance between the CCF and the Canadian Labour Congress. During his 10-years as leader of the NDP, he wielded significant influence while in a minority government setting, pushing for the adoption of national social welfare programs, such as medicare and old age pensions, as well as advocating for human rights.
The Government of Canada is committed to connecting Canadians to the significant people, places, and events that contributed to our country's diverse heritage.The commemoration process is largely driven by public nominations. To date, more than 2,000 designations have been made.
The Government of Canada is inviting young people and their families to explore Parks Canada places, with free admission for youth aged 17 and under, and learn more about our country's history – from lighthouses to battlefields, historic neighbourhoods to Indigenous contributions to Canada, there is an amazing array of stories and places to discover.
"On behalf of the Government of Canada, I am honoured to commemorate the national historic significance of Tommy Douglas. Through compassion, an unwavering commitment to social justice, and integrity, he helped improve the lives of Canadians. Above all, he left us the legacy of the publicly funded health insurance program across Canada that is central to our Canadian values. As a native of Saskatchewan, I am proud of Tommy Douglas' accomplishments and I encourage all Canadians to learn more about his significant role in our country's history."
The Honourable Ralph Goodale,
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and Member of Parliament for Regina—Wascana
- Tommy Douglas was born on 20 October 1904 in Falkirk, Scotland, to a religious, working-class family, who encouraged him to debate politics, religion, and current events while being open to other perspectives. The family moved to Canada in 1911.
- Often the conscience of Parliament on civil liberties, Tommy Douglas was one of the few who raised their voices against cold war intolerance and the imposition of the War Measures Act during the October Crisis of 1970.
- Created in 1919, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada advises the Minister of Environment and Climate Change regarding the national historic significance of places, people, and events that have marked Canada's history.
Backgrounder: Thomas Clement "Tommy" Douglas (1904–1986)
SOURCE Parks Canada
For further information: Audra Norek, Cultural Resource Management Officer, Saskatchewan South Field Unit, Parks Canada, 306- 745-6234, mailto:[email protected]; Media Relations, Parks Canada Agency, 855-862-1812, [email protected]://www.twitter.com/parkscanada