Job: Assistant Professor in Health Law and Pharmacy at the University of Alberta

6 February 2013

University of Alberta, Faculty of Law and Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Academic Appointment in Health Law and Pharmacy

The Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Alberta are seeking applications for one tenure-track joint appointment at the rank of Assistant Professor to be shared between Law and Pharmacy.

JOB DESCRIPTION: The successful candidate will be based in the Faculty of Law and 75% of the individual’s teaching and service responsibilities will be in the Faculty of Law, but the individual will also have 25% of his or her teaching and service responsibilities in the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. The teaching responsibilities in pharmacy will concern the legal and ethical responsibilities of pharmacists.

ABOUT THE FACULTY OF LAW: The Faculty of Law at the University of Alberta is celebrating its Centenary during the 2012-2013 academic year. It is proud of its tradition of excellence in preparing students for the practice of law, the distinction of its contributions to research and public service, and the success of its graduates. The Faculty is one of Canada’s foremost law schools and is dedicated to enhancing its international reputation for excellence in teaching, research and scholarship.

ABOUT THE FACULTY OF PHARMACY AND PHARMACEUTICAL SCIENCES: The Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences offers one of the strongest BSc pharmacy degree programs in Canada. The Faculty annually admits 130 student pharmacists, and currently has 57 graduate students. The first class of Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) students will begin in September 2013.

JOB QUALIFICATIONS: The successful candidate will have a graduate degree in law. Preference will be given to applicants with a health law background and/or health law related Ph.D., or in the process of completing a Ph.D. or equivalent. Candidates should have a strong record or aptitude for research and publication, experience or interest in teaching at a post-secondary level and experience or interest in working with interdisciplinary research teams. Experience or interest in collaborative research with pharmacy is particularly encouraged.

The competition will remain open until the position is filled, but short-listing of candidates will commence on March 8, 2013.

APPLICATION PROCEDURE: Applications should include a cover letter with a brief description of previous research, teaching experience and interests, a curriculum vitae, the names of at least three referees, and samples of publications or other writing. Applications must be sent, preferably in electronic form, to:

Dean Philip Bryden
Faculty of Law
485 Law Centre
University of Alberta
Edmonton, AB CANADA T6G 2H5
Telephone: 780 492 5590
Fax: 780 492 4924
Email: deanoflaw [at]

All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority. The University of Alberta hires on the basis of merit. We are committed to the principle of equity in employment. We welcome diversity and encourage applications from all qualified women and men, including persons with disabilities, members of visible minorities, and Aboriginal persons.

Conference: Health Law in Toronto

27 February 2012

2012 National Health Law Conference: Global Health Challenges & the Role of Law
May 4 & 5, 2012
Metropolitan Hotel, Toronto, Canada

Reduced rate available until March 1, 2012.
This conference will bring together leading scholars, policy-makers, practicing lawyers and health care professionals to explore how law can address global health challenges and make real progressive change.

The kinds of global challenges participants will explore include:

  • Access to care and essential medicines on the part of the most vulnerable (poor, mentally ill, aboriginal populations)
  • The rise and inequitable impact of medical tourism
  • The spread of chronic diseases around the world
  • Exponential increases in smoking in many countries
  • The obesity epidemic and so forth…

In the legal world we think we can meet these challenges through law and litigation – for example human rights litigation – but to what extent is that true and what are the context and circumstances where law/litigation can really make a positive difference?  And where is law simply used by vested interests to further inequities?

Confirmed speakers include:

    • Mary Anne Bobinski, Faculty of Law, University of British Columbia
    • Timothy Caulfield, Faculty of Law, University of Alberta
    • I. Glenn Cohen, Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics, Harvard Law School
    • Rebecca Cook, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto
    • Jocelyn Downie, Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University
    • Colleen M. Flood, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto
    • Richard Gold, McGill University
    • Lawrence O. Gostin, O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown Law
    • Trudo Lemmens, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto
    • and many more…

Keynote Panel Debate:  “Can Law Meet Global Health Challenges?  Perspectives from Medicine and Politics”
Keynote panelists:

      • Abdallah S. Daar, Senior Scientist, the McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health & & Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto
      • Theodore R. Marmor, Health Care Policy, Politics and Law Expert, Yale University
      • Michael Ignatieff, Senior Resident, Massey College, University of Toronto
      • James Orbinski, Chair and Professor in Global Health, Dalla Lana School of Public Health; Co-Director, Global Health Diplomacy Program, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto

2012 Paul Cadario Public Lecture – May 4, 2012
The conference will feature the 2012 Paul Cadario Public Lecture:  “The Global Politics of Health Care” with Professor James Morone from Brown University.  The Lecture will be held on May 4, 2012 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. following the first day of the conference.   The Cadario Public Lecture is sponsored by the School of Public Policy and Governance, University of Toronto (SPPG).   Every year, the SPPG hosts a prominent policy academic or author to a public audience in Toronto.

The Conference is organized by the CIHR Training Program in Health Law, Ethics & Policy and the Health Law and Policy Group of the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto.  For more information about the conference, please email:  info [at]

Job: Professor of Health Law at Dalhousie

12 July 2011

Dalhousie University, Schulich School of Law
MacBain Chair in Health Law and Policy

The MacBain Chair in Health Law and Policy, named after Arthur Allister MacBain (LL.B. 1951) and established in 2011, was created through the generous support of the McCall MacBain Foundation.

We invite applications for a tenure-track or tenured appointment to the MacBain Chair in Health Law and Policy at the rank of Assistant, Associate or Full Professor, to commence July 1, 2012. The term for the chair is five years and is renewable. The appointment is subject to budgetary approval. Applications received before September 30, 2011 will be given the fullest consideration.

The Faculty seeks applications from exceptional scholars in the field of health law and policy. The chair holder will provide intellectual leadership at the law school and with Dalhousie’s Health Law Institute, and will be actively engaged in projects that seek to have an impact in the health law field locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. The chair holder is expected to contribute to teaching and supervision at both the J.D. and graduate levels.

The Faculty of Law is already home to a Tier 2 CRC in Health Law in addition to Dalhousie’s Health Law Institute. The addition of the MacBain Chair in Health Law and Policy is expected to make Dalhousie the leader in health law and policy research in Canada and place us among a small number of academic institutions with international impact in this field.

APPLICATION PROCEDURE: Applications, including a CV, a statement of teaching and research interests, and the names of three referees, should be forwarded by September 30, 2011 to:

Dean Kim Brooks
Schulich School of Law
Dalhousie University
1459 Oxford Street
Halifax, NS B3H 4R2
Tel: (902) 494-2114
Fax: (902) 494-2102

Or applications may be made by e-mail, addressed to: lawdean [at]

Job: Research Associate in Health Law and Policy

8 December 2010

Faculty of Law
Research Associate (Limited Term)
The Research Associate (Limited Term) provides research and management support in the execution of the supervisor’s role as Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy.


Reporting to Colleen M. Flood, a Canada Research Council Chair in Health Law and Policy, who is also the outgoing Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute for Health Services and Policy Research, the Research Associate (Limited Term) is expected to provide research services and manage the research portfolio of the Chair.

He or she will be required to maintain positive and continuous interactions with people with whom the Chair has contact, including senior officials in national and provincial organizations that conduct work related to health law and services/policy.


The deadline for applications is January 15, 2011. For full job description, requisite qualifications, and instructions on how to apply, please refer to the posting online.

Comment: the Pratchett proposal for prospective approval of assisted suicides

1 February 2010

Terry Pratchett’s proposal in his Dimbleby lecture tonight (Shaking Hands with Death) appears to be for Parliament to put in place a system of prospective approval of assisted suicides.  The key for such a regime would be to avoid excessively burdening those who might choose assisted suicide, while screening out in advance those who do not meet the regulatory criteria, for example in relation to the request for assistance, or the nature of the person’s condition and experience.

What could we learn from other jurisdictions about prospective approval? Thus far, full prospective approval has only been a cautionary approach adopted by judges setting out interim measures to operate provisionally (ie, only until the legislature responds to a judicial decision that individuals have a right to assistance in dying). All of the current regulatory approaches to assisted dying in permissive jurisdictions (including the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and the US states of Oregon and Washington) involve retrospective assessment rather than prospective approval, although the Dutch due care criteria or requirements of careful practice do provide significant prospective guidance to doctors, particularly the requirement of consultation. Moreover, a form of informal prospective approval is provided in the Netherlands by the use of a network of euthanasia consultants (the ‘Support and Consultation on Euthanasia in the Netherlands’ (SCEN) initiative). (See Bregde Onwuteaka-Philipsen & Gerrit van der Wal, ‘Support and Consultation for General Practitioners Concerning Euthanasia: The SCEA Project’ (2001) 56 Health Policy 33 (discussing the predecessor project in Amsterdam); M.C. Jansen-van der Weide et al., ‘Implementation of the project ‘Support and Consultation on Euthanasia in the Netherlands’ (SCEN)’ (2004) 69 Health Policy 365; M.C. Jansen-van der Weide et al., ‘Quality of consultation and the project ‘Support and Consultation on Euthanasia in the Netherlands’ (SCEN)’ (2007) 80 Health Policy 97-106)

Although prospective approval prior to the act of assistance in dying has not been a feature of any of the existing permissive regimes, it was proposed in the Canadian case of  Rodriguez. In that case, one of the judges of the British Columbia Court of Appeal found in favour of the appellant, who was suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or motor neurone disease (Rodriguez v. British Columbia (Attorney-General) (1993) 76 B.C.L.R. (2d) 145). McEachern C.J.B.C. held that the criminal prohibition against assisted suicide violated Ms Rodriguez’s constitutional ‘right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice’ which is found in section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and set out six conditions with which the appellant and her physician would have to comply in order to avoid criminal liability:

First, the Appellant must be mentally competent to make a decision to end her own life, such competence to be certified in writing by a treating physician and by an independent psychiatrist who has examined her not more than 24 hours before arrangements are put in place which will permit the Appellant to actually terminate her life and such arrangements must only be operative while one of such physicians is actually present with the Appellant.

Such certificate must include the professional opinion of the physicians not just that she is competent, but also that, in the opinion of such physicians, she truly desires to end her life and that, in their opinion, she has reached such decision of her own free will without pressure or influence from any source other than her circumstances.

The fact that the Appellant has made her intentions known by bringing these proceedings, and in many other ways, may be taken into consideration by the physicians in reaching their opinions, but they will of course be careful to ensure that the Appellant has not changed her mind since making her earlier declarations.

Secondly, in addition to being mentally competent, the physicians must certify that, in their opinion, (1) the Appellant is terminally ill and near death, and that there is no hope of her recovering; (2) that she is, or but for medication would be, suffering unbearable physical pain or severe psychological distress; (3) that they have informed her, and that she understands, that she has a continuing right to change her mind about terminating her life; and, (4) when, in their opinion, the Appellant would likely die (a) if palliative care is being or would be administered to her, and (b) if palliative care should not be administered to her.

Thirdly, not less than three clear days before any psychiatrist examines the Appellant for the purposes of preparing a certificate for the purposes aforesaid, notice must be given to the Regional Coroner for the area or district where the Appellant is to be examined, and the Regional Coroner or his nominee, who must be a physician, may be present at the examination of the Appellant by a psychiatrist in order to be satisfied that the Appellant does indeed have mental competence to decide, and does in fact decide, to terminate her life.

Fourthly, one of the physicians giving any certificate as aforesaid must re-examine the Appellant each day after the above-mentioned arrangements are put in place to ensure she does not evidence any change in her intention to end her life. If she commits suicide, such physician must furnish a further certificate to the Coroner confirming that, in his or her opinion, the Appellant did not change her mind.

Fifthly, no one may assist the Appellant to attempt to commit suicide or to commit suicide after the expiration of thirty-one days from the date of the first mentioned certificate, and, upon the expiration of that period, any arrangements made to assist the Appellant to end her life must immediately be made inoperative and discontinued. I include this condition to ensure, to the extent it can be ensured, that the Appellant has not changed her mind since the time she was examined by a psychiatrist.

This limitation troubles me greatly as I would prefer that the Appellant be permitted a free choice about the time when she wishes to end her life. I am, however, unwilling to leave it open for a longer period because of the concern I have that the Appellant might change her mind. She is able to proceed at her preferred pace by delaying the time for her psychiatric examination until the time she thinks she is close to the time when she wishes to end her ordeal. If she delays causing her death for more than thirty-one days after such examination then there is a risk either that she had not finally made up her mind, or that, as is everyone’s right, she has changed it, or possibly that she is no longer competent to make such a decision.

Lastly, the act actually causing the death of the Appellant must be the unassisted act of the Appellant herself, and not of anyone else. ([100]-[108])

The substantive criteria articulated by McEachern C.J.B.C. were those of terminal illness, a competent, voluntary and enduring request, and ‘unbearable physical pain or severe psychological distress’.

On appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, one of the dissenting judges also fashioned a similar remedy for Ms Rodriguez. The Chief Justice found that her right to equality under section 15(1) of the Charter was infringed by the criminal prohibition on assisted suicide which

creates an inequality since it prevents persons physically unable to end their lives unassisted from choosing suicide when that option is in principle available to other members of the public. This inequality is moreover imposed on persons unable to end their lives unassisted solely because of a physical disability, a personal characteristic which is among the grounds of discrimination listed in s. 15(1) of the Charter. Furthermore, in my opinion the inequality may be characterized as a burden or disadvantage, since it limits the ability of those who are subject to this inequality to take and act upon fundamental decisions regarding their lives and persons. For them, the principle of self-determination has been limited. (Rodriguez v. British Columbia (Attorney-General) [1993] 3 S.C.R. 519, [167])

Unable to justify the infringement under the saving provision in section 1 of the Charter, the Chief Justice fashioned a remedy similar to the constitutional exemption created by McEachern C.J.B.C.:

(1) the constitutional exemption may only be sought by way of application to a superior court;

(2) the applicant must be certified by a treating physician and independent psychiatrist, in the manner and at the time suggested by McEachern C.J.B.C., to be competent to make the decision to end her own life, and the physicians must certify that the applicant’s decision has been made freely and voluntarily, and at least one of the physicians must be present with the applicant at the time the applicant commits assisted suicide;

(3) the physicians must also certify:

(i) that the applicant is or will become physically incapable of committing suicide unassisted, and

(ii) that they have informed him or her, and that he or she understands, that he or she has a continuing right to change his or her mind about terminating his or her life;

(4) notice and access must be given to the Regional Coroner at the time and in the manner described by McEachern C.J.B.C.;

(5) the applicant must be examined daily by one of the certifying physicians at the time and in the manner outlined by McEachern C.J.B.C.;

(6) the constitutional exemption will expire according to the time limits set by McEachern C.J.B.C.; and

(7) the act causing the death of the applicant must be that of the applicant him or herself, and not of anyone else. ([236]-[244])

The substantive criteria articulated by Lamer C.J.C. were those of physical incapacity to commit suicide unaided and a competent, voluntary and enduring request. McEachern C.J.B.C.’s requirements of terminal illness and ‘unbearable physical pain or severe psychological distress’ were dropped. The criterion of terminal illness was no longer relevant given that Lamer C.J.C. had found a violation of the right to equality for all those incapable of committing suicide unaided ([234]). To restrict the exemption to the terminally ill, therefore, might violate the rights of those who are unable to commit suicide unaided but are not terminally ill.

Judgement: SCC rules on rights of seriously ill children to make their own medical decisions

22 July 2009

The Supreme Court of Canada has held by a 6-1 majority that seriously ill children under the age of 16 may be treated against their wishes in the child’s best interests. The adolescent in question, aged 15 but found to be competent, had refused a blood transfusion on the grounds of her Jehovah’s Witness faith. She was suffering from Crohn’s disease and resulting internal bleeding. The majority of the SCC held that her constitutional rights were not violated provided that her best interests were interpreted in a way that sufficiently respected her capacity for mature, independent judgment in a particular medical decision‑making context. A.C. v. Manitoba (Director of Child and Family Services) 2009 SCC 30.

Kirk Makin, writing in the Globe and Mail, interviewed the adolescent’s lawyer who described his client as ‘elated’ by the court’s focus on her as an individual.

Justice Binnie dissented strongly, arguing (from the headnote): “While it is understandable that judges would instinctively give priority to the sanctity of life, the rejection of the potentially lifesaving effects of blood transfusions by Jehovah’s Witnesses is fundamental to their religious convictions.  The rights under ss. 2(a) and 7 of the Charter are given to everyone, including individuals under 16 years old.  If a mature minor does in fact understand the nature and seriousness of her medical condition and is mature enough to appreciate the consequences of refusing consent to treatment, then the state’s only justification for taking away the autonomy of that young person in such important matters disappears. The young person with capacity is entitled to make the treatment decision, not just to have “input” into a judge’s consideration of what the judge believes to be the young person’s best interests.”

Radio: Interview with Robert Latimer

25 February 2009

In November 1994, Saskatchewan farmer Robert Latimer was convicted of second degree murder in the ‘mercy-killing’ of his severely disabled daughter Tracy. Twelve year old Tracy Latimer suffered from severe cerebral palsy caused by brain damage during her birth or gestation. She was confined to a wheelchair with no use of her limbs, could not talk and had great difficulty swallowing. On a daily basis she suffered five or six seizures. She was incontinent, and according to her parents, she was in constant pain. The evidence established that Robert Latimer had been a caring and nurturing father, actively involved in Tracy’s daily care. During a temporary stay in a group home while her mother was in the later stages of her fourth pregnancy, Tracy lost a significant amount of weight and dislocated her hip. She was scheduled for hip surgery, the latest operation in a long line of surgical interventions to correct muscular and skeletal problems caused by Tracy’s violent muscle spasms, a common problem associated with severe cerebral palsy. Effective pain control was extremely difficult in Tracy’s case due to the prospect of drug interactions with her anti-convulsant medication and the risk of respiratory distress. Two weeks before the surgery, Robert Latimer apparently decided that Tracy had suffered enough. While the rest of the family was at church, he placed Tracy in the cab of his pickup truck, rigged up a hose from the exhaust, and poisoned his daughter with carbon monoxide fumes. During the investigation into Tracy’s death, and consistently thereafter, Latimer maintained that he was motivated solely by a desire to halt Tracy’s constant pain. ‘My priority was to put her out of her pain. She was in pain constantly,’ he told the police. Latimer was originally convicted of second degree murder, but this conviction was overturned on the grounds of prosecutorial misconduct. Latimer was again convicted at a second trial, and the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the trial judge’s decision not to leave the defence of necessity to the jury.

Latimer is now out on parole and has spoken to Owen Bennett-Jones on the BBC World Service programme ‘The Interview’. You can listen to the programme or download the podcast until Friday 27 February.