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CCF - Tommy Douglas - A Scottish Baptist minister family member


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A Scottish Baptist minister and his family came to Weyburn just in time to
experience the Great Depression and stayed to leave a mark on the city, the
province and in Canadian history amongst this ministers family was an eight
year old boy named Tommy. Tommy Clement Douglas was a man who contributed a
lot to Canadian society in his lifetime. Tommy Douglas and his family
immigrated to Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1919. As a child Douglas spent his
formative years in Winnipeg, in a home where politics, philosophy and
religion were common topics discussed over the dinner table. Douglas was
deeply affected by the living condition that families lived in and the
suffering he witnessed that were brought on during the Great Depression in
his hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba. At age 10 an emergency visit to the
hospital made a significant impact on Douglas and served as an inspiration
for his dream of universally accessible medical care. In his youth Douglas
tried different types of occupation such as: amateur acting, boxing, and was
an apprentice printer. In 1924 Douglas enrolled in a liberal arts college
organized by a Baptist church whereupon Douglas found his true calling.
After several post-graduation years working as a minister in the depression
era Saskatchewan, Douglas' political affiliations began to formulate when he
made the move towards politics in 1935. He was then elected as an MP in the
Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF).

Tommy Douglas was born October 20, 1904 in Falkirk, Scotland. Both his
parents were Scottish. The Douglas family emigrated to Winnipeg, Manitoba in
1910. The Douglas family then returned to Glasgow, Scotland, during World
War I, but came back to settle in Winnipeg in 1919. In 1924 Tommy Douglas
was enrolled at Brandon College in Manitoba. Brandon College, which was
founded and run by the missionary Baptists of Ontario, and provided young
ministers with an opportunity to receive an educational background. Douglas
completed his MA in Sociology at Hamilton's McMaster University and did
post-graduate studies at the University of Chicago where he studied the
living conditions of the homeless. In the winter of 1929 Douglas, involved
with the community church as a student minister was asked to come to the
Calvary Baptist Church on a trial basis. He was not yet ordained, but the
congregation wanted to look him over and see if he was what they were
looking for in a minister. At the time Tommy and his best friend, Stanley
Knowles, both came to Weyburn on trial, preaching alternate Sundays. But it
was Tommy Douglas who the congregation decided upon, and asked him to return
after his ordination in 1930.

As a child Tommy Douglas' behavior and characteristics reflected the traits
and personality that he would be greatly admired and known for in the
future. Douglas as a child would perform monologues and recited poetry at
family gatherings and would take small roles in the Winnipeg vaudeville
theatre. Douglas impressed a local theatre owner so much that the theatre
owner offered to pay the young Douglas' way through formal drama school but
Douglas rejected the offer. Douglas told an interviewer years later that he
"didn't want to be an echo of someone else's lines. He wanted to make up his
own lines in life." On June 21, 1919 (famously known as "blood Saturday")
Douglas and his friend were delivering newspapers and witnessed a conflict
between RCMP Officers and striking workers, which resulted in two deaths
during this event. J.S Woodsworth, the founding leader of the CCF was
arrested. J.S. Woodsworth at the time was the Douglas family's pastor.

Elected June 25, 1944, Tommy Douglas and the CCF formed the first socialist
government in North America. In the shadow of the Second World War,
Saskatchewan's voters were persuaded that their provincial government needed
a more ambitious agenda that would be aimed towards full employment, public
health and social well-being. Premier Douglas assumed the role of Health
Minister in 1944-1948. Some of Douglas' major innovations as Health Minister
included: Free health care for pensioners, free cancer treatment for those
in need, the creation of the College of medicine at the University of
Saskatchewan. On January 1, 1947- Douglas created Canada's first universal
and compulsory hospital insurance plan (the Universal Hospital Service
plan). The plan offered: Expanded hospitals facilities (21 new hospitals
over 4 years), Common drugs and other hospital services, Compensation for
share of out of province medical costs. The government also re-organized the
public school system in order to equalize condition and enrich the quality
of education at the time. The department of Education created the following
reforms: Increased wages for teachers, with a new salary structure, a new
system of school grants, and an increased educational budget. The Douglas
government created important trade unions legislation and created many of
the rights that workers now take for granted such as: The Trade Union Act-
Revolutionary in Canada, the act guaranteed for workers the right to
organize and to bargain collectively (It also created the Labour Relation
Board), The 44-hour week was made mandatory, Employers were forced to
provide their employees two weeks vacation with pay. Douglas introduced many
more innovations and made countless improvements to Federal and provincial
governments in areas like Social

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