Thomas Shoyama

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Thomas Kunito Shoyama


Thomas K. Shoyama
Born(1916-09-24)September 24, 1916
Kamloops, BC
Died December 22, 2006(2006-12-22) (aged 90)
Victoria, British Columbia
Nationality Canadian
Occupation Public Servant

Thomas Kunito (Tommy) Shoyama (September 24, 1916 – December 22, 2006) was a prominent Canadian public servant who was instrumental in designing social services in Canada, especially Medicare.

Canadians citizens of Canada

Canadians are people identified with the country of Canada. This connection may be residential, legal, historical or cultural. For most Canadians, several of these connections exist and are collectively the source of their being Canadian.

Medicare is an unofficial designation used to refer to the publicly funded, single-payer health care system of Canada. Canada does not have a unified national health care system; instead, the system consists of 13 provincial and territorial health insurance plans that provides universal health care coverage to Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and certain temporary residents. These systems are individually administered on a provincial or territorial basis, within guidelines set by the federal government. The formal terminology for the insurance system is provided by the Canada Health Act and the health insurance legislation of the individual provinces and territories.


Early life

Shoyama was born in Kamloops, British Columbia, the son of a shop owner. He graduated from the University of British Columbia (UBC) in 1939 with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and a Bachelor of Commerce (with Honours) degree. Rejected for training as a chartered accountant, Shoyama was hired as a reporter for the Vancouver-based Japanese-Canadian newspaper The New Canadian, serving as editor from 1939 to 1945. [1]

Kamloops City in British Columbia, Canada

Kamloops is a city in south-central British Columbia, Canada, at the confluence of the two branches of the Thompson River near Kamloops Lake.

British Columbia Province of Canada

British Columbia is the westernmost province of Canada, located between the Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains. With an estimated population of 5.016 million as of 2018, it is Canada's third-most populous province.

University of British Columbia public research university in British Columbia, Canada

The University of British Columbia (UBC) is a public research university with campuses in Vancouver and Kelowna, British Columbia. Established in 1908, UBC is British Columbia's oldest university. The university is ranked among the top 20 public universities worldwide and among the top three in Canada. With an annual research budget of $600 million, UBC funds over 8,000 projects a year.

The New Canadian

The New Canadian was the sole Japanese-Canadian newspaper to be allowed to continue publishing after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. In 1942, Shoyama was forced to move the offices of the 8-page weekly to an internment camp in Kaslo in the Slocan Valley. As editor, Shoyama was a spokesman for the rights of the Japanese Canadian community and an important community leader during the wartime evacuation and resettlement. [2] Shoyama continued to edit the newspaper until the spring of 1945 when he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Canadian Army's Intelligence Corps.

Pearl Harbor harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii

Pearl Harbor is a lagoon harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, west of Honolulu. It has been long visited by the Naval fleet of the United States, before it was acquired from the Hawaiian Kingdom by the U.S. with the signing of the Reciprocity Treaty of 1875. Much of the harbor and surrounding lands is now a United States Navy deep-water naval base. It is also the headquarters of the United States Pacific Fleet. The U.S. government first obtained exclusive use of the inlet and the right to maintain a repair and coaling station for ships here in 1887. The attack on Pearl Harbor by the Empire of Japan on December 7, 1941, was the immediate cause of the United States' entry into World War II.

Kaslo Village in British Columbia, Canada

Kaslo is a village in the West Kootenay region of British Columbia, Canada, located on the west shore of Kootenay Lake. Known for its natural environment, it is a member municipality of the Central Kootenay Regional District. As of 2016, it had a population of 968.

Slocan Valley

The Slocan Valley is a valley in the West Kootenay region of British Columbia, Canada.

Public service

Shoyama left the military in 1946, taking a job in the Saskatchewan public service until 1964, first as a research economist, then as economic adviser to Premier Tommy Douglas and Premier Woodrow Lloyd, where he was one of the architects of the provincial medicare system.

Saskatchewan Province of Canada

Saskatchewan is a prairie and boreal province in western Canada, the only province without a natural border. It has an area of 651,900 square kilometres (251,700 sq mi), nearly 10 percent of which is fresh water, composed mostly of rivers, reservoirs, and the province's 100,000 lakes.

Tommy Douglas 7th Premier of Saskatchewan

Thomas Clement Douglas was a Canadian politician who served as Premier of Saskatchewan from 1944 to 1961 and Leader of the New Democratic Party from 1961 to 1971. A Baptist minister, he was elected to the House of Commons of Canada in 1935 as a member of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF). He left federal politics to become Leader of the Saskatchewan Co-operative Commonwealth Federation and then the seventh Premier of Saskatchewan. His cabinet was the first social democrat government in North America and it introduced the continent's first single-payer, universal health care program.

Woodrow Lloyd Canadian politician, noted as the Premier of Saskatchewan that formally instituted Canadas first Medicare program.

Woodrow Stanley Lloyd was a Canadian politician and educator. Born in Saskatchewan in 1913, he became a teacher in the early 1930s. He worked as a teacher and school principal until 1944, and was involved with the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation, eventually becoming its president.

Leaving the Saskatchewan public service shortly after the election of 1964, Shoyama became a Senior Research Economist with Economic Council of Canada. In 1968, he became Assistant Deputy Minister of Finance, and by 1975, after a term as Deputy Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources, was appointed Deputy Minister of Finance. During his final year in Ottawa, he served as Adviser to the Privy Council on the Constitution, and as Chairman of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited.

The Economic Council of Canada is a former Crown corporation that was owned by the Government of Canada and was established in 1963 under the Economic Council of Canada Act.

Atomic Energy of Canada Limited is a Canadian federal Crown corporation and Canada's largest nuclear science and technology laboratory. AECL developed the CANDU reactor technology starting in the 1950s, and in October 2011 licensed this technology to Candu Energy.

Retiring from the public service in 1979, Shoyama moved to Victoria, British Columbia and joined the School of Public Administration and the Department of Pacific and Asian Studies at the University of Victoria.

Victoria, British Columbia Provincial capital city in British Columbia, Canada

Victoria is the capital city of the Canadian province of British Columbia, located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island off Canada's Pacific coast. The city has a population of 85,792, while the metropolitan area of Greater Victoria has a population of 367,770, making it the 15th most populous Canadian metropolitan area. Victoria is the 7th most densely populated city in Canada with 4,405.8 people per square kilometre, which is a greater population density than Toronto.

University of Victoria university in Victoria, British Columbia

The University of Victoria is a major research university located in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. The University of Victoria is the oldest post-secondary institution in British Columbia, tracing its roots back to Victoria College which was founded in 1903, under the sponsorship of McGill University. The University of Victoria is a non-religious institution which is centred around the Greater Victoria suburb of Oak Bay. The university has approximately 22,000 students, including many post-graduate and doctoral candidates.


Shoyama was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1978. In 1979, Mr. Shoyama was honoured with the Outstanding Achievement Award of the Public Service of Canada. The citation read, in part, “His strength of character, inexhaustible energy and absolute dedication to Canadian interests … brought him national and international recognition as an outstanding public servant of his country.”. [3] In 1982, he received the Vanier Medal from the Institute of Public Administration of Canada in 1982. [4] In 1992, the government of Japan awarded him the Order of the Sacred Treasure (gold and silver star) in recognition of his contributions to the Japanese Canadian community.

In 2007, the Department of Finance created the Thomas K. Shoyama Award to recognize outstanding achievement by a Finance employee. [5] The Department also established the Thomas Shoyama Annual Public Policy Lecture, which invites internationally recognized experts to speak on innovative ideas in public policy analysis. [6]

In June 2007, the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy (JSGS) was established jointly between the University of Regina and the University of Saskatchewan. It was named in honour of Shoyama and Albert Wesley Johnson.

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