Health Law Courses – Common Law

Access to Health Care (Gruben/TBD)

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.


Indigenous Health Law (TBD)

This course will provide an overview of issues at the intersection of Indigenous health law and policy. It will include a basic introduction to the foundations of Indigenous health law followed by examination of topical issues in this domain.
First Nations, Metis and Inuit people have a disparaging health status in Canada due to a variety of determinants of health, including Canadian law and health policy. The source and content of these laws and policies will be examined as well as the current health policies that affect Indigenous people in Canada. There will be a focus on jurisdictional issues, the division of powers, Constitutionally protected rights and international rights to health. The course will be structured in two parts. We will begin by obtaining a basic understanding of key concepts in Indigenous health law. We will then go on to explore legal, policy and ethical issues surrounding a select assortment of special health law topics that affect Indigenous peoples in Canada. This is a participatory learning class where students will be expected to lead the class in a listed topic of their choosing and guest speakers will be joining the classes where applicable. Evaluation is provided through participation, a research proposal and a research paper.
Given the large and continually growing range of emerging issues in health law and policy, our aim will not be a comprehensive examination of this field. Rather, we will adopt a ‘big picture’ approach and will develop a general framework for approaching and analyzing Indigenous health law and policy issues. A focus on law and policy, and the relationship between them, will remain a consistent theme throughout the course. At the same time, our discussions will accommodate and assess issues from various interdisciplinary perspectives, recognizing that students will bring diverse and interesting backgrounds to the class.


Introduction to Research Ethics (TBD)

Throughout human history, human experimentation has been a condition sine qua non for much of the advancement of science and, in particular, of medicine.  However, starting around the Second World War, scientific means and methods became more powerful, and the inquisitory nature of the human mind became more insistent.  Sciences like medicine and psychology made great progress because of the war and its consequences; including the atrocities conducted in the guise of research by both Germany,  and Japan.  Americans were not exempt and some extremely controversial research took place on U.S. soil and on other territories after the war.
Research ethics guidelines were developed as a result of the post-war Nuremberg Trial. These were followed by more detailed guidelines all of which are still being updated as needed.  Other international organizations like the World Health Organization and UNESCO have developed various guidelines.  Research regulations and legislation have also been developed and employed in various countries.  All of the regulations, policy and guidelines are intended to protect the safety and rights of human research participants, while recognizing the need for human research to advance scientific knowledge and medical care.


Law and Neuroscience (Nadler) (January Intensive)

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.


Law and Psychiatry: Mental Health Law (Chandler)

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.


Medical-Legal Problems (Gruben/TBD)

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.


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

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 (Flood) (1L thematic)

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).


Global Public Health and Human Rights (Houston) (1L thematic)

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.


Immigration Health Law (Chen) (1L thematic)

This course introduces students to Canada's immigration and health care systems, and examines legal, ethical and policy issues that arise when these two fields intersect. Canvassing both domestic and international law, including Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, Canada Health Act, and the International Bill of Human Rights, the course will consider such topics as public health related travel restrictions, medical inadmissibility, immigrant and refugee health care, medical tourism, and international migration of health care professionals. Through critical discussions of these issues, students are invited to explore how immigration and health care laws and policies contribute to social exclusion and inclusion, and how they affect equity both domestically and globally.
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