The History of Health Care in Canada, 1914-2007
Canada's national health insurance program, often referred to as "Medicare", is designed to ensure that all residents have reasonable access to medically necessary hospital and physician services, on a prepaid basis. Instead of having a single national plan, we have a national program that is composed of 13 interlocking provincial and territorial health insurance plans, all of which share certain common features and basic standards of coverage. Framed by the Canada Health Act, the principles governing our health care system are symbols of the underlying Canadian values of equity and solidarity.
Roles and responsibilities for Canada's health care system are shared between the federal and provincial-territorial governments. Under the Canada Health Act (CHA), our federal health insurance legislation, criteria and conditions are specified that must be satisfied by the provincial and territorial health care insurance plans in order for them to qualify for their full share of the federal cash contribution, available under the Canada Health Transfer (CHT). Provincial and territorial governments are responsible for the management, organization and delivery of health services for their residents.