Medicare’s Histories

Origins, Omissions, and Opportunities in Canada

Esyllt W. Jones (Editor), James Hanley (Editor), Delia Gavrus (Editor)

Medicare is arguably Canada’s most valued social program. As federally-supported medicare enters its second half-century, Medicare’s Histories brings together leading social and health historians to reflect on the origins and evolution of medicare and the missed opportunities characterizing its past and present. Embedding medicare in the diverse constituencies that have given it existence and meaning, contributors inquire into the strengths and weaknesses of publicly insured health care and critically examine medicare’s unfinished role in achieving greater health equity for all people in Canada regardless of race, status, gender, class, age, and ability.

Fundamental to the stories told in Medicare’s Histories is the essential role played by communities – of activists, critics, health professionals, First Nations, patients, families, and survivors – in driving demands for health reform, in identifying particular omissions and inequities exacerbated or even created by medicare, and in responding to the realities of medicare for those who work in and rely on it. Contributors to this volume show how medicare has been shaped by politics (in the broadest sense of that word), identities, professional organizations, and social movements in Canada and abroad.

As COVID lays bare social inequities and the inadequacies of health care delivery and public health, this book shows what was excluded and what was – and is – possible in health care.


Medicare’s Histories offers a superb and timely collection of essays on the critically important subject of Canadian medicare by some of the best scholars in the field.”

– Elsbeth Heaman, History and Classical Studies, McGill University, author of the award-winning Tax, Order, and Good Government: A New Political History of Canada, 1867-1917

About the Authors

Esyllt W. Jones is a history professor at University of Manitoba and is the author of the award-winning Influenza 1918: Death, Disease and Struggle in Winnipeg.

James Hanley is a professor of History at the University of Winnipeg.

Delia Gavrus is an associate professor of History at the University of Winnipeg.

Other contributors: Catherine Carstairs, J.T.H. Connor, Megan J. Davies, Jacalyn Duffin, Erika Dyck, Aaron Goss, Geoffrey L. Hudson, Maureen Lux, Heather MacDougall, Mary Jane Logan McCallum, Kathryn McPherson, Sasha Mullally, Julien Prud’homme, Antoine Rossignol, Whitney Wood, David Wright

Book Details

  • Medicare’s Histories: Origins, Omissions, and Opportunities in Canada
  • Esyllt W. Jones (Editor), James Hanley (Editor), Delia Gavrus (Editor)
  • Published May 2022, 392 pages
  • Paper, ISBN: 978-0-88755-280-9, 6 × 9, $31.95
  • Topic(s): History, Medical History, Public Policy

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