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J.D. Option in Health Law


The Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa offers students both the largest concentration of health law professors and the broadest selection of health law courses in Canada. Some students come to law school with a health background or with an interest in health generally. Others discover their interest during their law studies. Either way, enrolling in the Option in Health Law allows you to showcase the array of courses in health law that you take during your studies. A certificate and notation on your law school transcript can be attractive to future employers. As well, the Option allows you opportunities to interact more closely with health law professors. The Option is available to students in the Common Law section.

For details on requirements and enrolment in the Option, please see the Health Law Option page at the Faculty of Law.

Deciding which law school to attend can be tough, because each one has its own merits and areas of specialization. For me, what tipped the scales was uOttawa’s Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics (CHLPE).

I became involved with CHLPE in 1L after applying for a Santeship: A program that allows first-year law students to work on health law-related projects with a professor in their particular field. I had the immense pleasure of working with Professor Jennifer Chandler, whose research focuses on the intersection between the law, ethics and the brain. I worked on a wide range of fascinating projects ranging from regulation of psychosurgery, to the impacts of neurological and mental disorders on culpability, to the Charter as it applies to Medical Assistance in Dying legislation. These projects opened by eyes to the limitless options one can pursue with a law degree and enabled me to discover areas I can envision myself practicing in.

Aside from the challenging and innovative work, I truly felt like I was part of a team and that I developed lasting relationships with the professors and other students at CHLPE. For example, because COVID prevented us from being able to celebrate being the first cohort to obtain the Option in Health Law, members of CHLPE took it upon themselves to throw us a virtual celebration. It is rare to be part of an institution that goes above and beyond for its members, but CHLPE exceeded all my expectations. The professors at CHLPE are invaluable mentors who display a genuine interest in your self-development and learning experience.

I feel incredibly fortunate to have been part of CHLPE, and I am confident that future students will feel the same.

Klara Danielson
J.D. 2020

Following are the courses that currently count toward requirements for the J.D. Option in Health Law (all of which are also eligible to be taken by non-Option students).

Most but not all courses will be offered next year.
Typically if a course is not offered next year, it will be offered in the following year.

For course availability and more information please go to:
Faculty of Law, Common Law Section course search engine
Faculty of Law, Civil Law Section courses page

Courses – Common Law (1L Thematic)

Can only be taken by 1L students but do count toward the course count for the J.D. Option in Health Law.

Access and Benefit: Genetic Resources and Traditional Knowledge


Chidi Oguamanam

As the first objective, this perspective seminar is designed to introduce students to the various contexts for the use(s) of the knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities relating to genetic resources (plants, animals and other biological materials) and aspects of Aboriginal environmental stewardship and biodiversity conservation in the biotechnology, medicine, pharmaceuticals, foods, agriculture, beverages, cosmetics, health, personal care products and related industries and in various forms of research and development. As a second objective, it introduces students to the international and local legal and policy spaces on how access to those genetic resources and associated indigenous or traditional knowledge is negotiated to ensure there is fairness, justice and equity for indigenous peoples, industries/corporations, researchers and all stakeholders. The third objective of the seminar is to assist students understand the intersection of various complementary and competing legal regimes including Aboriginal law, traditional knowledge, intellectual property and 'biopiracy', environmental, biotechnology and even constitutional law around the subject of genetic resources. Finally, through the thematic, students are exposed to relevant fora on access and benefit sharing to genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Intellectual Property Organization along with the local legal and policy contexts for Aboriginal rights and the ongoing Reconciliation initiative in Canada. All together, the seminar will enable students to have insightful perspectives and advantage to inform their choice and performance in related upper year courses.

Immigration Health Law


Y.Y. Brandon Chen

The first-year thematic course is designed to allow first-year students to broaden their knowledge of a specific topic in law. In this particular thematic course, students will be introduced to Canada's immigration/refugee and healthcare 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 healthcare laws and policies contribute to social exclusion and inclusion, and how they affect equity both domestically and globally.

Disability Rights Law and Social Justice


Ravi Malhotra

In this seminar, we explore how law can be used as a tool to empower people with disabilities and work for social justice on issues relating to disability rights. At the same time, we also consider the extent to which law is used to regulate the lives of people with disabilities. Students will be introduced to a variety of approaches to thinking about disability issues and the differences between impairment, disability and handicap through jurisprudence and other scholarly materials. Some of the topics that are covered include disability accommodation in the workplace and in the educational spheres, reproduction and sexuality, and the hotly contested issues related to the “right to die”. We also spend some classes on how disability law works in practice before courts, tribunals and arbitrators in Canada.

Global Health Law (1L Thematic)


Roojin Habibi

The course provides a critical overview of the governance and regulation of global health under international law, as well as the structures and features of global governance processes and frameworks for health more generally. The course is organized into three parts. Students are first introduced to the definition, scope and functions of global health law as a growing field of international law, and of other relevant regimes of international law, including international human rights law and international trade law. Having acquired this foundational understanding, the class will then examine how these frameworks and institutions apply to paramount health concerns including infectious and non-communicable diseases. In the final part of the course, the class will undertake a forward-looking analysis of the international community's ability to keep step with rapidly evolving issues in global health, including pandemics and antimicrobial resistance, climate change, and sexual and reproductive health and rights. By the end of the semester, students will be able to critically assess the adequacy of international law for the protection and promotion of global health, and prospects for developing the field of global health law.

Courses – Common Law English (Upper Year)

Medical-Legal Problems


Vanessa Gruben

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


Sexuality, Gender and the Law


Angela Cameron

This seminar will explore issues at the intersection of law, sexuality and gender in Canada. Although the legal production and regulation of sexuality and gender impacts everyone, the class will focus primarily, but not entirely, on its particular impacts on gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, two-spirited and queer (GLBTTQ) people. The class will introduce various theoretical perspectives and will consider the legal construction of gender and sexuality in the judicial decisions, legislation and administrative rules that define and regulate gender and sexuality in Canada.

Law and Psychiatry: Mental Health Law & Neuroethics


Jennifer Chandler

This seminar addresses the legal issues related to mental health, mental disability, and neuroethics in four parts.

(1) Mental health law in Ontario
The laws and procedures of involuntary committal and treatment under provincial mental health legislation, capacity and substitute decision-making. We also consider the intersection of tort law with mental illness.

(2) Mental disorder and criminal law
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.

(3) Human rights and mental disability
Questions of human rights and social justice relating to mental health and mental disability, particularly with respect to discrimination and access to care.

(4) Emerging neuroscience, ethics and the law
This 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.

Public Health Law


Roojin Habibi

At the heart of public health law and policy lies this basic question: to what extent can the state legitimately impinge on individual rights, in its efforts to promote or protect the health of the population? 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, GMO labeling, mandatory vaccinations (and alleged links with autism), fluoridation of the water supply, criminalization of HIV non-disclosure, scrutiny of individuals donating blood and ban on the sale thereof, gun control, safe-injection sites, the legalization of recreational marijuana etc. Areas of law engaged include statutory interpretation, criminal law, constitutional law, tort law, privacy law, and administrative law.

Those favouring a restricted role for public health 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 favor 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 explore these conflicting views and their grounding in philosophical frameworks (libertarianism, libertarian paternalism, contractarian rights theory, egalitarian liberalism, utilitarianism, and communitarianism) and public health frameworks (police powers, human rights, civic models, harm reduction, precautionary principle, etc) and, in addition, consider the extent to which public health decision-making inculcates evidence about what works and doesn’t work. We will also explore the role of both domestic and international law in the formulation, execution, administration and frustration (through judicial challenge) of public health policy at national and global levels. These issues will be animated through case studies of, for example, different pandemics and communicable diseases, tobacco control and vaping, obesity control, decriminalization and subsequent regulation of recreational marijuana, blood safety, vaccinations, firearms control, and the opioid crisis. 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.

Reproductive Rights, Law and Policy


Vanessa Gruben

Whether and when to reproduce is an intensely personal decision that significantly impacts one’s health and well-being. This course will explore how Canadian law and policy regulates and responds to human reproduction. It will address a range of topics related to reproductive autonomy, reproductive justice and access to reproductive health services. Topics may include abortion, contraception, sterilization, assisted reproduction, genetics and pregnancy.

Global Health Law


Roojin Habibi

The course provides a critical overview of the governance and regulation of global health under international law, as well as the structures and features of global governance processes and frameworks for health more generally. The course is organized into three parts. Students are first introduced to the definition, scope and functions of global health law as a growing field of international law, and of other relevant regimes of international law, including international human rights law and international trade law. Having acquired this foundational understanding, the class will then examine how these frameworks and institutions apply to paramount health concerns including infectious and non-communicable diseases. In the final part of the course, the class will undertake a forward-looking analysis of the international community's ability to keep step with rapidly evolving issues in global health, including pandemics and antimicrobial resistance, climate change, and sexual and reproductive health and rights. By the end of the semester, students will be able to critically assess the adequacy of international law for the protection and promotion of global health, and prospects for developing the field of global health law.

Pharmaceutical IP & Regulation


This course examines the Minister of Health’s drug approval process for pharmaceutical and biological drugs (including vaccines) and the role intellectual property rights have on this approval process. By reviewing legislative texts and the relevant (and extensive) jurisprudence that exists in this area, students will gain an understanding of how these two aspects of drug regulation impact on the competition between “brand-name” manufacturers (who typically obtain patents and other intellectual property in being the first to bring a drug to market) and generic or bio-similar manufacturers (who seek to enter the market by making a copy of a brand-name product).

Mental Health Issues and Criminal Law


Individuals suffering from mental disorders have contact with and are impacted by the legal system on a a daily basis. This course examines our perceptions of those suffering from mental disorders and critically assesses how these perceptions influence how the legal system responds to their needs and issues. There will be a review of the historical development of legal procedures and substantive law to address mental health issues. There will be a comprehensive review of the evolution leading to the passage of Part XX.I of the Criminal Code, beginning with the seminal case of Daniel McNaghten. The creation of a civil mental health system in Canada will also be examined. The efficacy of the current Review Board system will be critically examined. The course will focus both on having students acquire substantive knowledge of historical and mental health law, as well as to assess how the mental health and legal systems can most effectively work together.

Food Law


This course provides a basic overview of food law and policy in Canada. In addition to reviewing the primary acts and actors relevant to this area, this course surveys major topics covering all aspects of the food chain, from production to consumption. This will include topics such as agricultural law and policy, food safety, food and health labelling, marketing and advertising, public health, and the practice of food law in Canada.

In particular, we will tackle emerging areas such as food systems and sustainability, the new Food Policy for Canada, food security, food sovereignty and food justice; the social economy of food; the regulation of GMOs and other food innovations; food law and gender, animal welfare and animal rights and Indigenous approaches to food law, as well as the impacts of global pandemics on food systems. Students who have a keen interest in food law and practice will benefit greatly from this course. However, it is also designed for those more interested in the legal system generally who will learn about its workings through the case study of food and can then apply these insights to other areas of law and policy.

The course objectives are to be able to locate, explain and critique:

  • the past, present, and future of food law and policy in Canada
  • the federal, provincial, and municipal laws and regulations governing food
  • major and current areas of debate in the field
  • the relationship between academic, legal, industry, and government perspectives on food law and policy-related issues

They also include developing critical thinking skills and becoming familiar with alternative perspectives.

Cannabis and the Law


There have been few changes in Canadian legislation that have had an impact on as many areas of the law as the legalization of cannabis for recreational use. This course, sponsored by Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP/s.r.l., will survey the many areas of the law impacted by this unprecedented change and will examine the regulatory framework of cannabis in Canada in respect of both medical and recreational use, and production. In addition, the course will explore some of the potential legal implications of legalization, including with respect to employment/labour law, property law, immigration law and business law. The course features a variety of guest lecturers and instructors from Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP/s.r.l. in addition to a visit to Canopy Growth in Smiths Falls.

Student-Proposed Internship


An internship can be proposed by any student who wishes to further enhance his or her knowledge of a specific area of law while gaining workplace-related skills. The internship proposal must be submitted to the Career and Professional Development Centre (CPDC) for approval. Approval will only be granted if the Section is satisfied that the internship is pedagogically worthwhile for the student and that the organization or individual supervising the student understands its obligation to provide the student with a professional experience which will enhance the student’s legal knowledge and experience. Students must complete 115 hours of unpaid law-related work during a term, typically 1–2 days per week. Various health law-specific internships are available, including with The Ottawa Hospital and Élisabeth Bruyère Hospital. For more information, please consult the Student-Proposed Internship program page at the Faculty of Law.

Directed Research Project


Students who have completed two terms in law may apply for permission of the Academic Advisor to undertake research and writing in an area of their interest, under a member of the Faculty who agrees to act as supervisor of the research. Permission to enrol in this course will ordinarily be granted only to students who have demonstrated a high level of competence in their law studies. For more information see the Direct Research Project page at the Faculty of Law.

Courses – Common Law French (Upper Year)

Introduction au droit de la santé


Ce cours vise à expliquer aux étudiants et étudiantes la structure du système de soins de santé au Canada selon une perspective critique. L’objectif est de fournir un cadre d’analyse solide et des outils utiles pour faire de la recherche et exercer dans le domaine tout en examinant les iniquités inhérentes au système et les questions d’accès. Dans cet optique, le cours traite de plusieurs thèmes : le cadre constitutionnel canadien, la santé des populations, l’assurance santé, l'organisation et la réglementation des professions de la santé, la responsabilité professionnelle et des hôpitaux, la santé publique, la santé mentale, les médicaments, les autochtones et la santé, l’accès pour les groupes défavorisés, et les litiges en matière de santé en vertu de la Charte canadienne.

Les étudiants et étudiantes choisissent et analysent un arrêt ou un thème d’actualité portant sur un sujet qui les intéressent particulièrement et présentent le fruit de leur recherche à la classe. Au cours des années précédentes, les sujets suivants ont été explorés : le contrôle des produits du tabac, le système de sang, la procréation médicalement assistée, le consentement aux soins, l’accès à l’avortement, le régime de santé des réfugiés, l’autonomie décisionnelle en fin de la vie, etc.

Stage proposé par l'étudiant


Tout étudiant ou étudiante qui désire approfondir ses connaissances dans un domaine de droit particulier, tout en développant des compétences pratiques en milieu de travail, peut proposer un stage d'études. Le projet de stage doit être présenté au Centre des carrières et du développement professionnel (CCDP) de la Section de common law afin d'obtenir son approbation. Celle-ci ne sera accordée que si la Section est d'avis que le stage d'études est valable pour l'étudiant sur le plan pédagogique et que l'organisation ou l'individu qui dirigera le travail comprend son obligation de fournir à l'étudiant une expérience professionnelle qui lui permettra de parfaire ses connaissances juridiques et son expérience pratique. Les étudiantes et étudiants doivent compléter 115 heures de travail juridique non rémunéré durant un trimestre. En général, les étudiants effectuent leurs heures de stage en y consacrant une journée, une journée et demi ou deux journées par semaine pendant le trimestre. Divers stages en droit de la santé sont offerts, notamment à l’Hôpital d’Ottawa et à l’Hôpital Élisabeth-Bruyère. Veuillez consulter le site internet programme de Stages proposés par l’étudiant pour de plus amples renseignements.

Projet de recherche dirigée


Les étudiants et étudiantes qui ont complété deux trimestres en droit peuvent, avec l’autorisation du Conseiller aux études, entreprendre une recherche dans un domaine du droit de leur choix et rédiger un rapport sur le sujet, sous la direction d’un professeur ou d’une professeure de la Faculté consentant. En règle générale, la permission ne sera accordée qu’aux étudiants et aux étudiantes qui ont un excellent dossier scolaire en droit. For more information see the Directed Research Project page at the Faculty of Law.

Courses – Civil Law

Droit de la santé


Audrey Ferron Parayre

Ce cours se veut une introduction au droit et politiques de la santé. Portant principalement sur des questions de droit, il permettra toutefois de souligner les liens existants entre le droit, les sciences de la santé et les politiques publiques.
Le cours favorisera une analyse critique et une réflexion approfondie sur des enjeux propres au droit de la santé. Les thèmes suivants pourront être abordés :

  • Normes internationales de droit de la santé
  • Santé et partage des compétences au Canada
  • Chartes et droit de la santé
  • Loi canadienne sur la santé
  • Organisation du système de santé au Québec (LSSSS)
  • Compétences professionnelles (obligations déontologiques)
  • Droits des usagers (LSSSS et responsabilité médicale)
  • Droit pharmaceutique et recherche médicale
  • Droit de la santé publique

Enjeux sociojuridiques de la pandémie de COVID-19


Ce cours transversal a pour objet l’étude de la pandémie de COVID-19 au travers ses différents aspects sociojuridiques. Les enseignements permettront d’approfondir les nombreux questionnements sociojuridiques générés par la pandémie, tels les suivants :

  • Qu’est-ce qu’une pandémie et qui a le pouvoir d’en déclarer l’existence ? Quelles obligations incombent aux États lorsqu’une pandémie est déclarée ?
  • Au Canada, quel ordre de gouvernement a compétence pour agir en temps de pandémie ? Par exemple, de quels pouvoirs disposent les communautés locales pour agir afin d’éviter l’éclosion et la propagation du virus en leur sein dès lors qu’elles estiment que le gouvernement fédéral ou provincial manque à ses responsabilités ? Quels sont les rapports entre les pouvoirs du fédéral et des provinces d’agir en situation d’urgence ?
  • Quelle est l’étendue des pouvoirs de coercition dont disposent les forces de l’ordre afin d’assurer la mise en œuvre des mesures sanitaires adoptées afin d’endiguer la pandémie ?
  • Quelles sont les responsabilités des entreprises dans la gestion des risques en lien avec la pandémie, et par quels moyens leurs manquements pourraient-ils être sanctionnés ?
  • Quel est le rôle de l’intelligence artificielle et des technologies de l’information, telle la géolocalisation, afin de prédire, de suivre et d’endiguer une pandémie ? Comment réconcilier le rôle accru des technologies et le respect des droits individuels ?
  • Comment le droit peut-il servir à protéger la santé des travailleurs face à la COVID-19 ?
  • Comment le droit encadre-t-il le télétravail auquel sont astreints un très grand nombre de travailleurs pour une période indéterminée ? Quel sort pour les conventions collectives et la liberté d’association en temps de pandémie ?
  • Quelles obligations et quelles restrictions s’imposent aux autorités publiques dans la gestion de la pandémie en vertu des instruments internationaux et canadiens de protection des droits de la personne, qu’il s’agisse du droit à la liberté de religion, du droit à la vie et à la sécurité, du droit à l’égalité, ou encore des droits sociaux, économiques, et culturels ?
  • Qu’advient-il des contrats en temps de pandémie? Quid de la protection du consommateur en lien avec les pratiques commerciales abusives, comme l’imposition de prix excessivement élevés pour l’achat de produits essentiels ou sanitaires ?
  • Qu’en est-il des normes commerciales et sanitaires permettant d’assurer la sécurité
    alimentaire durant la pandémie ?
  • Quels obstacles juridiques pourraient intervenir dans le développement et la distribution
    de vaccins et d’autres médicaments afin de contrer la pandémie et ses effets les plus délétères ?

Ces questions et plusieurs autres seront discutées dans le cadre de ce cours prodigué par une vaste gamme d’experts œuvrant dans divers domaines du droit pertinents à la pandémie de COVID-19.

Droit psychiatrique


Dans le cadre de ce cours, les étudiant·es auront l’opportunité de mettre en perspective les pratiques en droit civil, criminel et administratif et leurs effets sociologiques. Le cours sera divisé en quatre parties. Dans un premier temps : la psychiatrie comme outil de contrôle social; le développement historique du droit psychiatrique; la sur-institutionnalisation et la désinstitutionalisation; quelques pratiques hospitalières actuelles comme les mesures de contrôle (isolement, contentions, substances chimiques) et les électrochocs. Dans un second temps, le droit civil : la garde en établissement et l'autorisation de soins. Dans un troisième temps, le droit criminel : la non-responsabilité pour cause de trouble mentaux; l'incapacité à subir son procès; l'automatisme. Finalement : la Commission d’examen et les tribunaux spécialisés.

Droit, médecine et biologie


Michelle Giroux

Le cours portera principalement sur des questions d'ordre juridique. Toutefois, il sera parfois utiled'établir les liens et les différences qui existent entre l'éthique et le droit. Dans un premier temps, les principes généraux à la base de la relation médecin-patient serontdiscutés. Par la suite, les problèmes spécifiques s'étalant du début à la fin de la vie serontabordés. La procréation médicalement assistée, l'expérimentation, le don d’organe, les soins defin de vie seront notamment étudiés.