Canada in Focus: Free Health Care?

Who pays for Canada’s health-care system? And, how did it come to be?

Produced by Canada’s History

Posted November 1, 2022

What happens if you break your arm in Canada? You head to emergency. If you have a sore throat, you visit a doctor. For minor treatments to major surgeries, Canadians enjoy a universal health-care system that is rivalled by few other nations.

Some people say Canadians enjoy free health care, but the truth is your tax dollars mostly pay for the system. It wasn't always this way. The road to universal health care in Canada was a winding, and sometimes, bumpy one and our ability to ensure that all Canadians receive similar levels of care is being squeezed by rising demand and by the challenge of paying for it all.

In this episode of Canada in Focus, host Darrell Stranger explains some of the different ways health care has been provided in Canada and who pays for our universal health-care system.

Watch the series

Canada in Focus: War and Peace

Is Canada really a “nation of peacekeepers?”

Canada in Focus: Making It Count

The generations-long struggle for voting equality in Canada.

Canada in Focus: A Promise to Share

Were Canada’s Treaties based on a major misunderstanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples?

Canada in Focus: Bilingual, But More

Canada may be officially bilingual — but in reality, it’s a land of many languages.

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History provides a much-needed context for understanding current topics and conversations in today’s society. It helps us understand notions of change, impact, and progress and provides us with tools for interpreting the world around us. In an era of misinformation and increasing divisiveness, history is needed more than ever for encouraging deep thinking and respectful dialogue.

Canada in Focus is a five-part video series that seeks to explain the historical context of current Canadian topics and issues by tracing a current topic back through history, highlighting key events and turning points.

Each video is accompanied by related support material (see below), including teachers’ manuals and strategies, so viewers can engage with the content more deeply.

Health Care History in Canada

In this guide, educators share how they teach health care history in the classroom, including advice, online resources, books, and lesson plans.

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