In Saskatchewan, Tommy Douglas and the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) had been in power since 1944, but the promise made then to provide comprehensive health care coverage to all citizens had been stymied by lack of funds. When Saskatchewan began to receive federal funding under the Hospital Insurance and Diagnostic Services Act, the government was able to move to the next component: medical services insurance. As Douglas pointed out to voters during a provincial by-election in 1959:
To develop the provincial plan, Douglas outlined five principles that would provide the foundation for provincial funding: prepayment, universal coverage, high quality of service, public administration and a plan that was “acceptable both to those providing the service and those receiving it.”
With the appointment of an Advisory Planning Committee on Medical Care in April 1960, the Saskatchewan government was moving to public discussion of an increasingly controversial topic: provincially funded medical care insurance. In contrast to their position in the 1940s, Canadian doctors were no longer as supportive of public funding for prepaid medical insurance. In Saskatchewan, almost one-third of doctors had emigrated from Great Britain, and many had bitter memories of the introduction of the National Health Service. Thus, the provincial election in the spring of 1960 became a testing ground for each side in this debate. To Douglas and his supporters, the medical services insurance plan was simply the logical next step on the road to comprehensive health services.