When Joe Clark and the Conservatives took office in May 1979, the new Minister of National Health and Welfare, David Crombie, moved quickly to appoint Mr. Justice Emmett Hall to conduct a commission to determine how medicare had evolved since its introduction and what problems needed fixing. The second Hall Commission was given neither the resources nor the timeline of its predecessor. Nevertheless, it received 450 briefs from health providers and consumers and travelled across the country hearing from citizens, pro-medicare non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the provinces and various medical associations. By the time the commission’s report was completed, the Liberals had returned to power and Monique Bégin had been reappointed as Minister of National Health and Welfare.
On September 3, 1980, Canada’s National–Provincial Health Program for the 1980’s was presented to the press and the public. In his report, Mr. Justice Hall clearly stated that the provinces were not “diverting funds,” but he equally emphatically condemned extra-billing and user fees. Once again, he reminded politicians, bureaucrats, doctors and the public that
Armed with the report, Minister Bégin attempted to negotiate with her provincial counterparts to end extra-billing and user fees. Her efforts were in vain, because doctors’ associations saw extra-billing as a fundamental right. Even provinces that offered large fee increases in return for the surrender of this option failed to gain their agreement.