Tommy Pearson Pearson. Churchill. MacDonald. Trudeau. This list is composed of some of the greatest and most respected men to shape the history of Canada and who meld the country we live in into its current state. One notable but equally influential Canadian politician missing from this list is Tommy Douglas.
Tommy Douglass government lasted from 1944 to 1960. During these sixteen years, he accomplished many great achievements, and brought in many important political changes to improve the health and living conditions of people all over the country. What exactly did Tommy Douglas accomplish that made him so great? Tommy Douglas was born in Falkirk, Scotland, on October 12, 1904. In 1910, his family immigrated to Winnipeg, Canada. When the first World War struck, the Douglas family moved back temporarily to Glascow.
There, he worked at a whiskey factory until the War ended. He then moved back to Winnipeg, where he worked as an apprentice printer at the Winnipeg Free Press and Grain Trade News. There, he learned first hand the needs and views of the common citizen. By 19, he had successfully earned his Journeymans as a printer. By then, however, he had earned a good reputation as a Baptist Preacher. There he met JS Woodsworth, a Methodist Preacher and political party CCF leader. He finished his schooling at McMaster University, earning an MA.
In 1934, Tommy Douglas began his political career. He ran unsuccessfully for provincial candidate of the Farmer-Labour party of Saskatchewan. The next year, he won as the CCF candidate for the federal constituency of Weyburn. By 1941, he was selected as the provincial leader of the Saskatchewan Provincial party in George Williams absence, who hd gone overseas to follow the war. He later resigned his federal position to lead the Saskatchewan CCF, and won the election with 47 seats of 53. During his five terms as premier, Douglas introduced many reforms, mostly geared towards public hospitals and medical care. These reforms moved Saskatchewan to a more forward and prosperous state.
In his first year alone, he introduced 72 bills that were aimed at social or economic changes. After only two years, he had reduced provincial deficit by $20 million. Some of Tommy Douglass greatest accomplishments were pensioner benefits and universal hospitilization. In 1944, he introduced pensioners to free medical, dental, and hospital services, as well as free treatment of cancer, mental illness, tuberculosis, and venereal diseases. During his campaining for the Humanity First, 70% of the CCF budget went into health, welfare, and education. In 1947, universal hospitilation was introduced.
For five dollars per annum per person, the cost of medical treatment for the sick was spread to the entire population. As the provinces finances became more stable, within 12 year he announced the medicare plan. The medicare plan was an upgrade of the previous universal hospilitation program. Tommy Douglas also brought in many other non-health related changes. For example, his Crown Corporation Act allowed provincial air and bus lines.
The Timber borad allowed the preservation of precious lumber resources. Also, SaskTel, or Saskatchewan Telephone, gave cheap, high quality telephone access to mos tof the people in the country. Douglas CCF then introduced the Trade Union Act, requiring collective bargaining to be mandatory and extending the rights of civil servants. Workers compensation, mandatory minimum wages, and paid holidays were set. In a mere four years, union membership rose 118 percent.
To show the commiutment Douglas government had to its constituents, each CCF cabinet member took a 28% pay cut to pay for any new departments created. However, perhaps Douglas greatest crown corporation accomplishment was Saskatchewan Power Corporation. Before the power grid had been hooked up, about 300 rural buildings had electricity. After, over 65,000 farmhouses had been connected. For all Tommy Douglas has done, he will always be remembered as one to help the little guy. His unrelenting support for anyone who was disabled or out of favor was a extreme tribute to the character this man contained, and his generosity has touched people around the province. Thousands of people benefited from his great leadership and thoughtful government. Tommy Douglas has been and still is a role model for many young Canadian people.
Bibliography 1992 Software Toolworks Encyclopedia Biographies.