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The vision of our founding members made Medicare a reality in Prince Albert...

Health Centre Histroy

The CO-OPERATIVE HEALTH CENTRE came into being in June of 1962. A group of people of co-operative philosophy assembled their administrative, personal and financial resources to establish a facility where physicians would practice under the new Medicare System. The group was made up of representatives from various trade unions, co-operatives, farm organizations and the general public. Dr. Orville Hjertaas became one of the founding members and Medical Director.

These people believed that it was possible to have a medical clinic in Prince Albert operating under the terms of the new Medical Care Insurance Act. They believed “the patient has a right to a voice, not only in how his medical bills should be paid, but also how he would like his medical services provided.” A NEWS RELEASE of the day said “Such a clinic will give opportunity for humanitarian Doctors to practice in clinics where the health of the people will be the primary consideration.” “Such a clinic …depends on the Medical Care Act for its successful operation.”

The Co-operative Health Centre opened its doors for business on July 2 1962. The Province of Saskatchewan had just passed the Saskatchewan Medical Care Insurance Act, thereby inaugurating the first provincially funded Medicare system in North America. At that time, there was strenuous opposition. The College of Physicians and Surgeons proposed a doctors’ strike by closing all doctor offices for public use after the Act was passed. Many doctors in Prince Albert and throughout Saskatchewan threatened to withdraw services if the Act was implemented.

When the Act came into effect, July 1, 1962, the physicians at the Co-operative Health Centre continued to provide service. They did so throughout the strike. The Co-operative Health Centre was the only group in Prince Albert to provide Medical service on more than an emergency basis.

From the beginning, our founders realized health care meant more than medical care. Long before this concept of a holistic approach to health was being discussed in the health care field, the Co-operative Health Centre was implementing the approach. By 1965, services such as Minor Surgery to perform procedures ordinarily done in a hospital Out Patient department, X-ray, Laboratory, Physiotherapy, Dietitian and Health Records were initiated. Within the first 10 years, services such as counselling, visiting nursing and client van service were in place.

Since then many other programs were developed which continue to operate within the Centre. Abused women have access to counselling and support. Aboriginal clients have access to liaison services, translation, support, counselling and advocacy. There is a school based children’s dental program. Community Against Family Violence provides health promotion, education and prevention focus. Physiotherapy offers Seniors’ Exercise groups on a regular basis, Nursing offers complementary therapies.

Support groups are regularly run for Families with Alzheimer’s clients, Smoking cessation, Osteoporosis clients, Diabetics and other groups depending on need.

In partnership with other community agencies the Co-operative Health Centre is involved in operating a Methadone program and the Safe Shelter for Women.

Some support groups and partnerships the Centre was involved with in the past have developed into organizations in the community providing services to groups such as addicts and young mothers.

Health Promotion and disease prevention has always been a major focus. The agency is involved in children and youth health fairs, health check for adults, workshops on a variety of topics and advocacy on issues related to determinants of health within our community.

The Co-operative Health Services Volunteers participate actively in the Centre receive charitable donations and raise funds for the Centre. In 25 years, they have raised well over $400,000.

We have come along way since 1962 but our history continues to be the foundation of our health care approach.


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