After his electoral disappointment in the fall of 1965, Prime Minister Pearson shuffled his Cabinet and appointed Allan J. MacEachen, a Cape Breton academic who had been involved in federal politics since the 1950s, as his new Minister of National Health and Welfare. One of the new breed of Liberal who believed that the state had a role to play in ensuring social security and equality, MacEachen was now facing a Cabinet in which deficit control and a pro-business orientation were evident. Nevertheless, when he introduced the Medical Care Act in the House of Commons on July 12, 1966, MacEachen opened his argument by stating:
In response, the Conservative and Social Credit Opposition condemned the government for overriding provincial jurisdiction, being fiscally irresponsible, undermining doctor–patient relationships and, according to Robert Thompson, the federal Social Credit leader, indulging in “the false philosophy of the welfare state. In my opinion, the government does have a responsibility to assist those who are unable to provide for their own needs. If we accomplish that then we are meeting our responsibilities as our brother’s keeper” (Canada, House of Commons Debates, Hansard [July 12, 1966], p. 7564). On the other side, the NDP, led by Stanley Knowles, chided the government for bringing in legislation that merely provided for medical services insurance. Where were the other components, such as home care, extended care, pharmaceutical benefits and dental care, which the Hall Commission had identified as part of a comprehensive system? But, as NDP Member of Parliament Grace McInnis, daughter of party founder and long-time advocate of sickness insurance J. S. Woodsworth, stated:
With NDP support, the Liberals were able to get the bill through its first reading.