Common Law Courses

Medical-Legal Problems

1.5 x 1.5-hour – September–December 2017
This course will explore a wide range of legal issues arising in health care settings. Traditionally, the physician-patient relationship has been the focus of health law. This course will cover legal issues arising from that relationship such as consent, professional negligence, and the regulation of health professionals. However, relationships and issues at the broader systems level are the subject of increasing legal regulation and health law scholarship. We will address such systems level issues as constitutional claims relating to access to and funding of health care, medical research ethics, and the regulation of pharmaceuticals. We will also discuss a number of selected topics including reproductive health care, mental health law and end-of-life decision-making.


Access to Health Care

Intensive – January 2018
The objectives of this course are to gain a deeper understanding of Canada’s health care system and access to health care. At the outset, we will explore the distinction between health and health care by examining the social determinants of health as well as the right to health protected by international human rights instruments. We will then turn to the focus of the course: health care. First, we will examine the legal structure and financing of Canada’s Medicare system. Various reform proposals to this structure will also be discussed. Second, we will consider the role of courts and other administrative tribunals in adjudicating individual claims for health care. Are these bodies well-suited to pronounce on difficult and divisive questions about the allocation of health care? Do better alternatives exist? What is the role of health care professionals in allocating health care? Third, we will explore specific examples including reproductive health care, refugee health care, mental health care, palliative care and medical aid in dying. Finally, we will examine the state's failure to provide adequate health care to Canada’s Indigenous peoples.


Law and Psychiatry: Mental Health Law Professor Jennifer Chandler

2 x 2-hour – February–April 2018
This seminar addresses the legal issues related to mental health, mental disability, and neuroethics in four parts.  The first part considers the laws and procedures of involuntary committal and treatment under provincial mental health legislation, capacity and substitute decision-making.  The second part focuses on mental disorder in the criminal justice context, including findings of fitness to stand trial, findings that a person is not criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder, sentencing options, mental health courts and therapeutic jurisprudence.  The third segment addresses questions specific to mental health and disability law for particular demographic groups.  In the fourth part of the course we consider the future, and look at how advances in the behavioural sciences are even now raising challenging questions for neuroethics and for the law.


Studies in Public Law: Law and Policy of Modern Plagues and Pestilence from Ebola to Obesity

3 hour seminar – September–December 2017
How should the law deal with modern day plagues, be it diseases like Zika or non-communicable diseases like obesity?  To answer this question we will wrestle with the extent to which the state can legitimately impinge on individual rights, in its efforts to protect or promote the population’s health. Legal controversies rage over public health policies such as proposals for a fat tax, banning super-sized portions of sugary or high-fat foods, reducing salt in our diets, elimination of tobacco advertising, restrictions on the use of e-cigarettes, GMO labeling, mandatory vaccinations (and alleged links with autism), fluoridation of the water supply, criminalization of HIV non-disclosure and the recreational use of marijuana and so on.
Those favouring a restricted role for the state (and law) speak of the importance of individual self-reliance, the problem of paternalism and the slippery slope of government intervention(s) that further erode individual liberties. Those in favour focus on improving the population’s health, the cost-effectiveness of deterrence over disease treatment, and the importance of promoting social justice and protecting the vulnerable both within nations and at the global level.
In this course we will interrogate the role of law (statue, case-law, international law, constitutional law) on modern public health problems.  Our exploration will be animated through case studies of, for example, tobacco control and e-cigarettes, criminalization of marijuana use, obesity control, water safety, blood safety, drug safety, vaccinations, environmental regulation, responses to pandemics and communicable diseases, regulation of new reproductive technologies, abortion and maternal health, and firearms control. Students will develop a robust analytic lens for assessing public health law and policy, and hone their skills at forcefully advocating for or against particular initiatives.


Comparative Health Systems Law and Policy (1L Thematic)

2 x 2-hour – February–April 2018
This course focuses on the impact of law on the structure and dynamics of Canada’s health care system. How do we decide what medical services, new drugs and technologies are publicly funded, and what are the legal avenues of appeal available to patients? How does the law contribute, at a systems-level, to ensuring the quality and safety of care delivered to Canadian patients? How and why has Canada’s health system failed Aboriginal peoples, and what role has the law played? What can the law do to improve upon wait times for care? Why does Canada not have a national insurance system for prescription drugs and what can be done about it? Delving into these and other live debates, students will gain an understanding of the legal framework of governance for Canada’s health care systems, the impact of federalism on health care policy, and how this ultimately shapes the care received by Canadians. Student will also learn the importance of the dynamic relationship between law and policy and how to apply public law principles through analysis of Charter and administrative challenges to the Canadian health care system (no pre-existing knowledge is assumed of the Charter or administrative law, but you will get a great overview here to help you in other public law courses).


Immigration Health Law (1L Thematic)

2 x 2-hour – February–April 2018
This exciting seminar to be offered in Winter 2017 will invite students to critically examine a number of ongoing debates that intersect international migration and health. Some of the questions that will be explored include:
Should the 2016 Summer Olympics have been relocated due to concerns about Zika?
Should prospective immigrants be required to undergo HIV testing?
Should countries exclude foreign nationals from immigration solely because they suspect these individuals may pose excessive demand on their social programs?
To what extent, if at all, should international migrants be furnished with public health care coverage?
Should people who cannot receive in their home country the health services they require be allowed, or even encouraged, to purchase such care abroad? Should Canada welcome these “medical tourists”?
Should Canada actively encourage the immigration of foreign health care professionals in light of how global health resources are currently distributed?
By thinking through these challenging questions, students will develop a better understanding of how international migration and health influence each other, and how such interactions affect the quest for social justice. Examples of law that will be examined in this course include: 
Quarantine Act;
Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, and its Regulations;
Canada Health Act;
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;
International Health Regulations;
International Bill of Human Rights.


Law and Neuroscience

Intensive – January 2018
This course addresses the legal implications of emerging knowledge from the brain sciences as well as neurotechnologies.  These developments pose fundamental questions for our basic legal concepts related to capacity and responsibility, as well as intriguing possibilities for challenging problems in legal practice such as the detection of memory, deception or pain using neuroimaging.  No scientific background is required for this course, which will be accessible to all with an interest in the conceptual underpinnings of our justice system as well as the practical questions that come up every day in Canadian courts.


Global Public Health and Human Rights (1L Thematic)

2 x 2-hour – February–April 2018
This course offers an introductory exploration of the intersection between public health and human rights, and the role of law in protecting, promoting, and at times reconciling them. It will provide a basic overview of the respective international legal frameworks for health and human rights before drawing upon examples (as well as domestic law and jurisprudence) from around the world to examine key topics including access to medicines, infectious disease outbreaks, tobacco control, HIV, the war on drugs, and the links between trade and public health. In doing so, it will compare and contrast how different jurisdictions have tackled similar problems, highlight how approaches to public health and human rights have changed over time, and draw broader lessons from these experiences. In the process, the course will also look at how other areas of law, from intellectual property to criminal law, have both public health and human rights implications. No prerequisites except an interest in the subject matter.


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