Thomas Shoyama

Last updated
Thomas Kunito Shoyama
Thomas K. Shoyama
Born(1916-09-24)September 24, 1916
Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada
DiedDecember 22, 2006(2006-12-22) (aged 90)
Nationality Canadian
OccupationPublic Servant

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


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]

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. 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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

Related Research Articles

Tommy Douglas 7th Premier of Saskatchewan (1944–1961)

Thomas Clement Douglas was a Canadian politician who served as seventh 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 democratic socialist government in North America and it introduced the continent's first single-payer, universal health care program.

Georges Vanier Canadian governor general

Georges-Philias Vanier was a Canadian military officer and diplomat who served as Governor General of Canada, the first French-Canadian to hold this post.

(Robert) Gordon Robertson, was the commissioner of the Northwest Territories from November 15, 1953 to July 12, 1963 who, having been sworn in at the age of 36, remains the youngest person to ever hold the office. He went on to become Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, the top position in the Canadian public service.

Robert Bryce Canadian civil servant

Robert Broughton Bryce,, was a Canadian civil servant.

Gordon Francis Joseph Osbaldeston, was a Canadian civil servant.

Klas Eklund Swedish economist and writer

Klas Eklund is a Swedish economist and writer.

Albert Wesley Johnson

Albert Wesley ("Al") Johnson, was a Canadian civil servant, former president of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, professor in the department of political science at the University of Toronto, and author.

Huguette Labelle

Huguette Labelle is a Canadian retired civil servant and former Chancellor of the University of Ottawa, serving from 1994 until 2012. She has been the chair of the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments since 2016.

School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University

The School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University (SIPA) is the international affairs and public policy school of Columbia University, a private Ivy League university located in Morningside Heights, Manhattan, New York City.

Kevin G. Lynch

Kevin G. Lynch is a Canadian economist and former Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, Canada's most senior civil servant.

Anders Borg Swedish politician (born 1968)

Anders Erik Borg is a Swedish politician who served as Minister for Finance in the Swedish government from 2006 to 2014. He is a member of the Swedish Moderate Party.

Wayne G. Wouters, is a Canadian former public servant and past Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet. He retired as Clerk on October 3, 2014, and was replaced by Janice Charette.

Robert Reischauer

Robert Danton Reischauer is an economist and was one of the two public trustees of the Medicare and Social Security Trust Fund. He is a nationally known expert on the federal budget, health reform, Medicare, and Social Security. Most recently (2000–2012) he served as president of the Urban Institute, a think tank based in Washington, D.C. He is the son of Japan scholar Edwin O. Reischauer.

Warren Steinley is a Canadian politician, who was elected Member of Parliament for the riding of Regina—Lewvan in the 2019 Canadian federal election. He represents the riding of Regina—Lewvan in the House of Commons as a Member of the Conservative Party.

Douglas Francis "Doug" McArthur is an educator and former political figure in Saskatchewan, Canada. He represented Regina Lakeview from 1978 to 1982 in the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan as a New Democratic Party (NDP) member.

Rose Marie Louise Simard, is a lawyer, executive, and former politician in Saskatchewan, Canada. She represented Regina Lakeview (1986–91) and Regina Hillsdale (1991–95) in the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan as a New Democratic Party (NDP) member.

The Canada West Foundation is a pan-western Conservative think tank based in Calgary, Alberta. It primarily conducts research on issues of concern in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, but also on issues of national significance.

Stephen T. Parente

Stephen T. Parente is an American health economist. He currently serves as a Professor of Finance and the Minnesota Insurance Industry Chair at the Carlson School of Management and Finance at the University of Minnesota. In April 2017, President Donald Trump nominated Parente to be Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

Paul Michael Boothe CM is a Canadian former senior civil servant, academic and non-profit CEO. Boothe was awarded the Order of Canada, Canada's highest civilian honour, in 2016 for his contributions to shaping Canadian economic and fiscal policy both in academia and government service. He lives in London, Ontario, Canada.