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Former Supreme Court Justice Hall inducted into Medical Hall of Fame

Thursday, May 04, 2017 @ 12:35 PM | By John Chunn

Justice Emmett Hall, a driving force for universal health care in Canada, was enshrined into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame on May 4 in a ceremony in Quebec City. 

Hall, who died in 1995, was one of six inductees to enter the hall. He was also the lone posthumous inductee.

Lisa Foster, executive director of the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, said Justice Hall is one of the reasons there is no watermark for an inductee into the hall because many people made contributions to health care from other professions.

Foster said when Saskatchewan Premier Tommy Douglas had doubts as to whether his health care methodology would be possible to implement nationwide, Hall had a different attitude and constantly said “most definitely” it was possible.

Born to a poor Irish family near Montreal in 1898, Hall studied law in Saskatchewan and served as chief justice of the province (appeal division) before his appointment to the Supreme Court of Canada in 1962.

In 1961, at the request of the John Diefenbaker government, Justice Hall led the Royal Commission on Health Services, interviewing hundreds of witnesses in public hearings, bringing attention to the challenges faced by ordinary men and women living with illness or injury.

Justice Hall lived to age 95 and was active and influential in many major issues including indigenous rights and the rights of the disabled.