Medicine and the Canadian State: From the Politics of Conflict to the Politics of Accommodation?
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This paper analyzes data from three large-scale surveys of Canadian physicians conducted over the past decade to examine the politics of a cohort of recently established family physicians in Ontario, and to assess the extent to which these politics represent a "softening" of professional resistance to government health insurance. Politically, this is an important cohort because the physicians in it have grown up without any firsthand knowledge of the pre-Medicare period, and because they are among the first to establish practices in the wake of the month-long 1986 Ontario physicians' strike, a high point of profession-government conflict. Factors which may have contributed to a moderation of medical politics include the progressive entry of women into medicine. Our data suggest that professional opposition to Medicare is declining and that fewer physicians support a return to voluntary and commercial control of the health system, a shift which could assist in breaking the historical cycle of profession-government conflict and moving to the politics of accommodation. In the conclusions we discuss implications for medical politics in Canada and other countries such as the United States.
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