Supporting health through research and education.


Novel Beginnings

Photo of 1975 MMSF Board.

1975 MMSF Board
Standing; Mr. Allen Rouse, Dr. P. H. T. Thorlakson
Sitting; Dr. J. C. Wilt, Professor Anne Du Moulin, Mr. Justice J. E. Wilson,
Dr. W. D. Bowman, Miss Dorothy Smith, Dr. O. A. Schmidt, Dr. Norman J. Corne,
Mr. J. A. Coulter, Mr. Bruce Sutherland, Mr. M. E. Lapka
Missing; Mr. H. Schneider

Making Manitoba a Better Place for Manitobans

The History of the Manitoba Medical Service, Manitoba Medical Service Foundation and Manitoba Blue Cross Collaboration

The Manitoba Medical Service (MMS) came into being as a result of requests for voluntary health insurance coverage in Manitoba. A committee was formed to set the parameters, fee schedule and create by-laws for the MMS. This committee was comprised of Dr. Malcolm Rutherford MacCharles (Chair), Dr. Brian Best, Dr. Hugh F. Cameron, Dr. J. S. McInnis, Dr. Claude McRae, Dr. A. Clifford Abbott, and Dr. Ross Mitchell. In 1943, the MMS was established as a not-for-profit corporation to provide equitable access to health services for patients of all income levels. In this model of service, all registered practitioners, who had agreed to provide services for an established fee, provided reliable medical care for Manitobans. This made basic and other medical care available to everyone.

The original MMS Board was comprised of medical members and lay members. The founding board members were Dr. Malcolm Rutherford MacCharles (surgeon), Mr. John B. Richardson (grain dealer), Dr. Hubert D. Kitchen (physician), Mr. Robert McKay (financial broker), Dr. Ross Mitchell (doctor of medicine), Mr. Fredrick W. Ross (banker), Dr. J. Stewart McInnes (doctor of medicine), Mr. Milton D. Grant (life insurance manager), Dr. Claude McRae (doctor of medicine), Mr. Gerald F. Pearson (banker), Dr. Hugh Cameron (surgeon), Mr. Donald H. Murdock (manager), Dr. Brian Best (doctor of medicine), Mr. Donovan Swailes (secretary) and Dr. Clifford Abbott (surgeon). This blend of individuals helped to keep the best interest of all Manitobans in the forefront. The coverage MMS provided was a co-operative endeavour to benefit both the insured and the medical practitioners.

In 1958, the government introduced a federal hospitalization plan and the Manitoba Hospital Service Association1 was dissolved. The government plan did not cover semi-private hospital rooms, so the Manitoba Medical Service was asked to provide this benefit. To administer the new plan, the MMS established the United Health Insurance Corporation Limited (UHICL), which in time, became the Manitoba Blue Cross we know today. This wholly-owned subsidiary company was established to fill in the gaps in coverage Manitobans faced. In 1974 UHICL changed their name to United Health Services Corporation (UHSC) to reflect its widening scope of responsibilities and to take advantage of a 'non-profit' status. At this time the MMS redeemed all shares in UHSC and MMS no longer held any financial interest in UHSC. In 1974, UHSC obtained a license to operate under the trade name Manitoba Blue Cross and continued to provide Manitobans with coverage not provided by federal and provincial plans.

When public health care was first conceived in the 1970's and the services of MMS were no longer required, the MMS worked together with government to help establish Medicare in Manitoba. In 1971 the MMS began preparations for its dissolution and the Manitoba Medical Service Foundation (MMSF) was incorporated. In wrapping up business for the MMS, members showed how much they cared about Manitobans by donating the remaining MMS funds to create the Foundation, with a vision to serve Manitobans through health education and research. In 1971 the MMS' original capital contribution was $200,000, with additional contributions made until 1975 when the financial books of the MMS were closed. In total the MMS' capital contributions, borne out of the members' generosity, totalled $455,697. The value of these funds has continued to grow through careful investing and management. This generosity by Manitobans lives on today in the MMSF and continues to serve Manitobans.

The values of the Foundation are rooted in the MMS history. The Foundation provides funds for the establishment or furtherance of projects promoting scientific, research, educational and other activities in the maintenance and improvement of the health and well-being of the residents of Manitoba. Its board members continue to be comprised of individuals from the medical and lay community. The 1971 founding members were Dr. O. A. Schmidt (Chair), Mr. Allen Rouse, Dr. P. H. T. Thorlakson, Dr. J. C. Wilt, Professor Anne DuMoulin, Mr. Justice J. E. Wilson, Dr. W. D. Bowman, Miss Dorothy Smith, Dr. Norman J. Corne, Mr. J. A. Coulter, Mr. Bruce C. Sutherland, Mr. M. E. Lapka, and Mr. Hans Schneider.

The MMSF has received Manitoba Blue Cross (MBC) support from the start. This ongoing support keeps the dreams of the original MMS members alive and continues to improve the health and well-being of all Manitobans. Manitoba Blue Cross supports the MMSF by covering all administration expenses, allowing the Foundation's investment income to go directly towards furthering research and education in Manitoba. In addition, MBC made capital contributions as well as provided funding for a significant portion of the annual grants. The boards of the MMSF and Manitoba Blue Cross continue to work together in many areas, including investment strategies. MBC maintains the values of the original MMS by providing supplementary health coverage, beyond Medicare, to Manitobans.

Together the Manitoba Medical Service Foundation and Manitoba Blue Cross continue to fulfil the dreams and values established by Manitobans in 1943: Manitobans paying it forward for the benefit of all Manitobans.

1Manitoba Hospital Service Association (MHSA) was created in March 1938 to provide a hospital coverage benefit package and began marketing under the name of Manitoba Blue Cross in 1939. In 1958 the MHSA was dissolved as a result of the federal hospitalization program, and the name Manitoba Blue Cross temporarily disappeared.

Grant Awarding Process

Photo of three of the Board of Directors going through applications

The Foundation has a distinctive grant awarding process. Ours is one of a few grant review processes which personally interviews prospective grant applicants to judge their proposals. Applications are welcome from medical and scientific researchers, and allied professionals, such as social workers, nurses, epidemiologists and other health workers involved in preventive, therapeutic, or rehabilitative care. Projects promoting scientific, educational and other activities in the maintenance and improvement of the health and well-being of Manitobans are considered.

Over the years, Foundation Board members have interviewed hundreds of candidates applying for research grants and the MMSF has supported many projects designed to obtain new knowledge about current health problems. The Foundation has contributed to medical and dental education by providing stipends for students enrolled in courses leading to the degrees of Bachelor of Science in Medicine and Bachelor of Science in Dentistry. The MMSF also provides a number of undergraduate and postgraduate awards for research excellence.

Continuing the Legacy


(Dr. Eric Bohm – Department of Surgery, U. of M./St. Boniface Hospital, recipient of the
MMSF Dr. F. W. Du Val Clinical Research Professorship Award July 1, 2004 – June 30, 2007)

The Norman and Margaret Corne Memorial Scholarship perpetuates the memory of Dr. Norman Corne, one of the Foundation's founders, who was appointed Honorary President of the Foundation in 1972 and served until his death in 1992. Mr. Morris Neaman's association with the Manitoba Medical Services began in 1955. In 1972 he became Chair of the Board of MMSF, a position he held until his death in 1974. The Morris Neaman Memorial Award is given annually in his memory. Other awards memorialize board members who have given exceptional service to the Foundation; these include Dr. J. C. Wilt, Justice J. E. Wilson, Dr. F. W. Du Val, Dr. L. Israels and Dr. William D. Bowman.

The Richard Hoeschen Memorial Award honours a prominent local businessman who passed away September 16, 2002. Relatives, friends, and Manitoba Blue Cross made contributions to establish a trust fund in his name. This award is co–funded with the St. Boniface Hospital Research Centre (SBRC). The MMSF and the SBRC equally share the funding of this award at $2,000 each annually.

In addition to operating grants, stipends, awards and scholarships, in 1987 the Foundation established a three-year MMSF Dr. F. W. Du Val Clinical Professorship; in 1991 a three-year Basic Science Career Development Research Award; and in 2000 a Clinical Professorship in Population Medicine. The Clinical Research Professorship in Population Medicine is now offered under the title of MMSF John Henson Clinical Research Professorship in Population Health and the Basic Science Career Development Research award is now offered under the title of the MMSF Allen Rouse Basic Science Career Development Research Award.

The MMSF is proud of the accomplishments of each recipient and looks forward to continuing its goal of supporting health–related research and education in Manitoba in partnership with Manitoba Blue Cross.

Continue reading the next page: Board of Directors

Photo of mmsf book

MMSF, 35 Years of Promoting Health Care Research in Manitoba