Lesson Overview:


This course looks at the welfare state and social programs in Canada, British Columbia and elsewhere. It focuses on the emergence, administration and reform of Canadian public health care. In other words, we get deep into just about everything in terms of how health care works – and, doesn’t work – in Canada. As well, you can be sure that the mechanics of it all apply to most other social programs in Canada, not to mention how Canada works, overall! All this sounds like a daunting task and a heaping smorgasbord-overflowed plate of learning, but we will take it as slowly as we can (well, not really!) over the semester. Let’s be sure to ask lots of questions and have some fun, constructive debates. That way, we can all learn and master the material together.

The first lesson also noted the relevance of this class, for you: “You should seek to gain from this course the ability to go forth and debate any health care matter that arises from a position of both reason and confidence.” Further, you work in the system, so you should know how it is set up and operates. Besides, you are of this country and live in it. It is your responsibility to play a role in its development.

Learning Objectives:

You should be aware of some recurring themes that will be the focus of this class, including (1) the relationships of, to and between individuals, society and the state; (2) that you are tasked with building arguments to defend your understanding of these relationships; (3) that you will be required to have opinions on the issues presented to the class, including on all written assignments; (4) and that ultimately you are expected to work towards your own conception of the role and scope of social programs in Canada. In short, these themes inform every lesson. These themes will be introduced in the welfare state unit and returned to throughout the term.

Required Readings:

Sample Question:

  • Actress Natasha Richardson (The Parent Trap, Maid in Manhattan) died after a skiing accident in Quebec. “The problem was she was nearly two hours away from a trauma hospital by ambulance, and there was no helicopter available” – prominent neurosurgeon. The timeline of the events indicate that the lack of medical equipment – a trauma helicopter and basic CT scanning equipment at the local hospital – delayed the treatment that may have saved her life” – news report from Washington, DC. “Some commentators have even used the incident to ask whether [Canada’s health care system] was to blame for her death” – Globe and Mail newspaper.” We tried to do our best” – Quebec minister. Was Mrs. Richardson’s death media sensationalism or a scathing indictment of Medicare in Canada?

© Political Science (Jason Morris), University of Northern British Columbia