It is the cold season, and you’re coughing very excessively. You have an important test coming up on Monday, and nothing seems to be working for you. You’ve drunk many glasses of orange juice; you’ve eaten many Halls; you’ve taken lemon and honey. So you to go to the clinic, and the doctor prescribed some medicine to take care of a cough. You pay for the medicine, and you leave. That’s all. A monetary transaction from your wages between you and the doctor does not happen. And you have Tommy Douglas to thank for this. Tommy Douglas is the greatest Canadian of all time, because of his many contributions to the great Canadian way of life, like introduction of pensions for the elderly, introduction of universally free healthcare, created crown controlled corporations to provide cheaper and easily available electricity for people, created government controlled insurance houses which provided extremely cheap insurance with low premiums, he revolutionized the lives of workers by mandating important work rules and implementing the Trade Unions Act, and because of the political shifts he made in the ways of running a government. Firstly, let’s discuss the introduction of Healthcare. When Douglas was a young Minister, during the Depression, he saw a lot of death from diseases and sicknesses, that could easily have been prevented if the people affected had enough money to afford healthcare. He himself had to bury two people that were close to him and the church he was employed to. He saw what the clutches of poverty did to people who were gravely sick. Even before his universal healthcare topic, he and his government had already begun providing “full funding of mental illnesses, STD’s and cancer(dufourlaw.com). Years after on November 19, 1961, Saskatchewan Medical Insurance Act, was made a part of the legislation a couple weeks after Tommy Douglas had left the leadership of the party. Mind you, the idea all stemmed majorly from him, and the new CCF premier only signed it into effect. This replaced private insurances, and individuals had to pay $12 per year on premiums, and families $24. With this, everybody in the province paid for the healthcare of each other, and they were “reassured that a terrible illness in the family wouldn’t lead to bankruptcy”(tommydouglas.ca). ¬†John Diefenbaker, the Prime Minister at the time, already expressed interest in this, and his successor, Lester B Pearson would later pass the law, to enable universal healthcare all over Canada,”under all NDP members under NDP leader Tommy Douglas”(dufourlaw.com), in 1966. Tommy Douglas played very crucial roles in all of these events, and Canadians have him to thank for this.Secondly, let’s discuss the ways he changed the lives of workers, for the better of it, with the mandation of many things. During the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919, young Tommy Douglas had seen something that would change his life forever. When the strike had reached its peak, teenager Douglas had witnessed the murder of a striker and an injury to another striker, by the RCMP, while he was delivering newspapers. Later in his life, he and his party passed laws that guaranteed the right to be in a union, and to bargain collectively as part of a union, as part of the Trade Unions Act. He also made the 44-hour week mandatory, which meant if employees worked for more, employers would be forced to pay overtime. The two weeks paid vacation that many people enjoy today was also made mandatory by Tommy Douglas’ government. The minimum wage in that time period also increased greatly, and he implemented the Workers Compensation Board, which “improved benefits and removed the waiting period for those who qualified”(tommydouglas.ca). Overall, he greatly improved the lives of workers and labourers. Thirdly, let’s discuss the ways he changed the lives of regular citizens in Saskatchewan during his time as Premier, through his creation of crown corporations for cheaper electricity. He made great advancements in this field. The Douglas administration in Saskatchewan created the Saskatchewan Power Corporation, in 1949, which was run as a Crown Corporation by the provincial government. Crown corporations are corporations that are owned by the government, but they are still a bit part of the private sector. By creating a crown corporation for electricity, this meant that residents would get cheaper electricity, as this corporation would compete against existing private companies and they would provide competition, which would eventually lower the price of the electricity. By creating competition and competing against the interests of private corporations, it would lead to a drop in price. And this project did reach its goal, as prices of electricity lowered during the time. Another great addition by the Douglas government was the Rural Electrification Act, which was created to provide electrical power for farmers and others in rural communities(tommydouglas.ca). And it too was a massive success as the investments in this plan skyrocketed from $40 million in 1952-1953 to $101 million in 1955(tommydouglas.ca). These huge investments helped provide many/many rural communities with power, and it was achieved under Tommy Douglas’ idea and government. Fourthly, let’s discuss what he has done to society by increasing benefits and pensions for seniors. When he was in term as premier, he dramatically increased old age tension(tommydouglas.ca) and welfare benefits for the seniors. This was the first major addition to the Old Age Pension Act in 1927, and the increase was very beneficial to the people. By helping improve the lives of seniors, it helped improve society in general in a couple ways. For example, the longer the senior lives, the more income and tax they generate, and more money goes into the Canadian government. More seniors meant more services used, and more demand for services as well. Healthier seniors just in general mean a better society because of all the wealth it generates and because of all the economic benefits to it. Douglas’ government encouraged this by increasing social welfare for seniors and dramatically increasing old age pensions for seniors Fifthly, let’s talk about how Douglas’ government created crown corporations in the insurance sector, and how it helped citizens. The Douglas government created the Saskatchewan Government Insurance office in 1945, and this office was a crown corporation that provided insurances of all kinds( except for life insurance) for cheap, with low premiums. This directly competed with many insurance providers at the time, and the competition lowered the price for different insurance services. It provided a good alternative, and a cheap one. Having cheaper insurance was great for the population because if they had the insurance, and they were in a situation that lead to economic hardship, they could rely on the insurance. Usually, people couldn’t afford insurance and in times of serious financial hardship, they would usually have to go through bankruptcy or similar. Douglas’ crown corporations in this field revolutionized this part of society, and it inspired great changeCanada as a whole later on. Sixthly, let’s discuss the political shifts he made in running a government. He was the first leader of a form of government in Canada that always consulted an advisory committee from his party(tommydouglas.ca). He also created the Economic Advisory and Planning Board which was a central cabinet committee, that oversaw monetary and budgetary matters. He always went over decisions with the advisory committee, and they always carefully went through different candidates for cabinet ministers. He also made other changes like the concept of cabinet responsibility, which was created so other members of the cabinet always had to seek advice on their ideas, and that all ideas had to be discussed with other members first before becoming an Act. This inspired many political reforms in systems in the governments, which still are in effect today, in places like the Senate and House of Commons. Overall, Tommy Douglas has played a very fundamental part in the way Canada is today. He is the greatest Canadian, living or dead, because of his introduction of universal healthcare, his contribution in the labour and lives of workers, his creation of crown corporations to help supply and lower cost for electricity to places in Saskatchewan, his contribution to increasing dramatically the pensions for seniors and their benefits, and because of the political reform that he shaped in the government. The changes that his actions helped shape are still felt in today’s society, and every Canadian should be thankful for his contributions. His government was a socialist democratic one in Saskatchewan, and this dispelled the negative view that Canadians had towards the idea, and it showed that socialism was not a bad idea, and that could co-exist peacefully with democracy. Without him, Canada might have been a very, very different country, and it might not be up to the standards that it has now. These are the reasons why Tommy Douglas can be considered to be the greatest Canadian.

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