Final Project Report: Results of a CIHR-Funded Project Examining Legal Issues in Infectious Disease Response and Control

By Ries, Nola M. | Health Law Review, Winter 2007 | Go to article overview

Final Project Report: Results of a CIHR-Funded Project Examining Legal Issues in Infectious Disease Response and Control


Ries, Nola M., Health Law Review


Project Overview

Following the SARS outbreak, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) issued a Request for Applications for research on legal and ethical lessons related to the SARS experience. Our team of legal and public health experts included the following scholars:

Timothy Caulfield

Health Law Institute, University of Alberta

Elaine Gibson

Health Law Institute, Dalhousie University

Rosario Isasi

Centre de recherche en droit public, Universite de Montreal

Bartha Maria Knoppers

Centre de recherche en droit public, Universite de Montreal

Mireille Lacroix

Centre de recherche en droit public, Universite de Montreal (now with the Public Health Agency of Canada)

Nola Ries

Health Law Institute, University of Alberta

Kumanan Wilson

Department of Medicine, University of Toronto

Key Accomplishments

From Fall 2004 to Spring 2007, our team delved into challenging and controversial legal and policy issues that arise in the public health context, including infectious disease response and control. Noteworthy achievements related to this project include:

* Broad dissemination of research results: Throughout the course of the project, we disseminated our research to a wide audience through invitational meetings and workshops, publications in legal and public health journals, presentations at events across Canada, and a webpage with links to PowerPoint presentations, articles written by team members, and updates on new public health legislation, reports and other initiatives (see http://www.law.ualberta.ca/centres/hli/project_summary.html).

Strong engagement with the Canadian and international public health community: From the inception of the project, the research team developed strong and ongoing linkages with members of the Canadian public health community, including the Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada, provincial public health departments and agencies, and the Canadian Public Health Association. Team members have also participated in public health law events sponsored by the United States Centers for Disease Control, the European Public Health Ethics Network, and the World Health Organization.

* Canada's first textbook on public health law: Members of the Health Law Institute, University of Alberta, invited legal experts across Canada and internationally to contribute to the first Canadian textbook on law and public health. Canadian Public Health Law and Policy (Butterworths, 2005) is an important resource for practitioners, policy makers and academics, and is used as a text in public health law and ethics courses at Canadian universities.

* Participation in Canada's first national conference on law and the public's health: Members of the research team served on the steering and planning committees for Canada's first public health law conference, held in Toronto in November 2006, and presented papers at this national event.

* Compilation of an extensive bibliography of legal literature in the public health law field: This bibliography, which will be updated periodically, is available at http://www.law.ualberta.ca/centres/hli/docs/Biblio-2007.pdf (current to January 2007).

Meetings & Workshops

First Collaborators Meeting--Montreal, August 2004

We began the project with a First Collaborators' Meeting to bring together the research team with federal and provincial policy makers and members of the public health community to identify pivotal issues for analysis as well as to establish collaborative links with key stakeholders. Participants included the Acting Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, the Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Public Health Association, Health Canada policy and regulatory staff, and provincial public health representatives.

Research team members made the following presentations at the First Collaborators' Meeting:

* First Collaborators' Meeting: Legal Foundations for a National Public Health Agency in Canada -- Timothy Caulfield

* International Experiences in Establishing National Public Health Agencies -- Bartha Maria Knoppers

* Legal Foundations of Public Health in Canada -- Nola Ries

* The Challenges of Multi-level Governance in Public Health -- Kumanan Wilson

* Legal Issues in Public Health Surveillance and Information Sharing -- Elaine Gibson

* The Quebec Public Health Act and its Institutions: A Modem Model -- Mireille Lacroix

Conference Series, Universite de Montreal

The Centre de recherche en droit public (CRDP), Universite de Montreal organized a conference series, "Genomics and Public Health," in 2004-05 with ten invited speakers, including five from outside Canada. …

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