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In 1929, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan established a cancer committee, which was to survey the treatment of cancer in the province and make proposals for improving it. The committee recommended that radium which was owned by private physicians be purchased by the government for use in centralized clinics under the control of a doctor. The committee also recommended that there be consultative services at each clinic, and that a commission be established to control the clinics. These recommendations were accepted by the government, and The Saskatchewan Cancer Commission Act (Chapter 218) was passed by the 1930 Session of the Legislature and became effective May 1, 1930. The Act authorized the establishment of a cancer control program in Saskatchewan, operated by the Saskatchewan Cancer Commission.
Two consultative diagnostic and treatment clinics were established in 1932, one in Regina, the other in Saskatoon. Initially, patients were required to pay nominal fees to the Commission for diagnostic services and radiotherapy, and were fully responsible for the payment of other medical, surgical and hospital costs related to the treatment of their cancer.
The leadership given at this time by the medical profession in Saskatchewan was responsible for the creation of the Canadian Cancer Society in 1938, and the establishment of a cancer program in the province which was unique in that it was founded on the mutual confidence and cooperation of the government, the medical profession and the laity.
The Cancer Control Act of 1944 was responsible for denoting Saskatchewan as the first area to have comprehensive tax-borne treatment for cancer in the world. It provided that all diagnostic services and treatment, including drugs directed at the control of cancer, would be paid by the province rather than by the patient.
In 1979, the Saskatchewan Cancer Foundation Act was passed, establishing Saskatchewan Cancer Foundation to replace the Cancer Commission. The Foundation maintains two service outlets: the Allan Blair Memorial Clinic in Regina and the Saskatoon Cancer Clinic. The clinics provide diagnosis, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and follow-up services. Registry services are an integral part of each clinic. In accordance with the Cancer Foundation Act, the Saskatchewan Cancer Foundation: collects information on cases of cancer and records data relating to these cases; participates or provides assistance for research projects in conjunction with the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of cancer; and collects information and records data on residents eligible for provincial cancer screening programs.
Allan W. Blair was born in Brussels, Ontario, in 1900. He received his early education in Regina, Saskatchewan. After graduating in medicine from McGill University in 1928, he took postgraduate studies in cancer and radiotherapy in the United States and Europe. In the early 1930s, he worked as the Associate Director of the Toronto General Hospital. In 1939 he returned to the west to become Director of Cancer Services for Saskatchewan and Director of the Cancer Clinic in Regina. In 1947 he was invited by the National Cancer Institute of Canada to carry out a survey of cancer facilities across the country, and he spent the next year collecting data in the various provinces. He died of a heart attack in November 1948, before the final report was written. Nonetheless, this survey is still remembered as the "Blair Report," and his contributions are memorialized in the name of the Allan Blair Clinic in Regina.
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The fonds consists of records created and collected by the Saskatchewan Cancer Commission, and its successor, the Saskatchewan Cancer Foundation, covering the period 1930-1982. Records include: correspondence; minutes of the Saskatchewan Cancer Commission; memoranda; briefs; reports; clippings; programmes; histories of the Saskatchewan Cancer Commission; annual reports of the Regina Cancer Clinic; and a speech by T.C. Douglas concerning health services in 1945.
Also included in this fonds is biographical information about Dr. Allan W. Blair, as well as some of his correspondence, papers and reports. Blair was Director of Cancer Services for Saskatchewan and Director of the Cancer Clinic in Regina in the 1940s.