Bill Blaikie remembered for championing public health care in Canada
Bill Blaikie, a well-known New Democrat politician who fought for a robust Canada Health Act and represented constituents in the Canadian Parliament and Manitoba Legislature has died at the age of 71.
Blaikie, a United Church Minister whose politics were inspired by the social gospel tradition of Tommy Douglas and others, was a Member of Parliament for almost three decades, from 1979 to 2008, representing what is now the Elmwood-Transcona riding in Winnipeg. In 2009, Blaikie won a seat in the Manitoba Legislature and served as the Minister of Conservation. He retired from politics in 2011. In 2020, he was awarded the Order of Canada for his lifelong contributions to parliamentary service and social activism.
Blaikie served as a board member of the Canadian Health Coalition for several years and is remembered by Pauline Worsfold, RN, chairperson of the coalition as a friend and champion of public health care.
“Bill’s dedication to the Canadian Health Coalition spanned many years. His belief in a public health care system for everyone living in Canada underpinned everything he did with us and in parliament too,” said Worsfold.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called Blaikie a “giant” in the party. Singh shared on social media:
Bill was a giant in our Party.— Jagmeet Singh (@theJagmeetSingh) September 24, 2022
His unwavering commitment to social and economic justice, his legendary knowledge of Parliament, and his sense of humour will be missed by all.
I send love and condolences to Brenda, Daniel, Rebecca and his entire family.
Rest in power Bill. ❤️ https://t.co/3eigKVP9zk
From 1980 to 1984, Blaikie was the NDP’s federal health critic and played a key role in the development of the Canada Health Act in 1984. He championed the legislation’s five principles: universality, accessibility, comprehensiveness, portability and public administration. He worked to stop extra billing and user fees for Medicare-funded services. Committed to the principles of the Canada Health Act, he advocated for conditions on federal health transfers to the provinces and clawbacks in transfers to the provinces if they were found to be violating the Canada Health Act.
Free dental care will be a qualitative and quantitative leap in the provision of preventative health care. Good oral health care is a foundation stone of good health, which is why for New Democrats it represents a long overdue further realization of the dream that inspired Tommy Douglas in creating Medicare.
Tributes to the “gentle giant” who loved bagpipes continue to pour in on social media. Bill Blaikie is survived by his wife Brenda, and children Daniel Blaikie, Rebecca Blaikie, Jessica Blaikie-Buffie, and Tessa Blaikie Whitecloud.