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Volume 1, Number 1 February 03

The CIHR Training Program in Health Law and Policy is funded by a partnership between the CIHR Institutes of Health Services and Policy Research, Gender and Health, Genetics, and the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research


In Canada today, there is an acute shortage of researchers trained to deal with health law and policy challenges. In response to this, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research have sponsored the CIHR Training Program in Health Law and Policy for graduate students at the University of Alberta, Dalhousie University, and the University of Toronto. This program seeks to address this shortage and deliver a new generation of health law and policy researchers who are trained to embrace a variety of disciplines and ensure that our regulatory and governance capacity matches our scientific capacity.

The objectives of the training program are to:

  • encourage increasing numbers of excellent students in undergraduate programs in law to pursue graduate studies in health law and policy;
  • strengthen the development of health law and policy curricula across the country by providing a forum for health law teachers and interdisciplinary mentors to meet and share best practices and curriculum materials;
  • enrich the training of graduate students in health law and policy by providing them with transdisciplinary learning opportunities through a variety of innovative programs and providing support for mentors in other disciplines whose job descriptions do not expand to working with students in faculties of law;
  • and increase the likelihood that skilled health law and policy researchers will seek career opportunities beyond private practice by creating a series of placement and internship opportunities.

To that end, we have brought together an extraordinary team of key mentors. This team has great depth due to the mentors’ combined research strength, training experience, transdisciplinary skills, experience, orientation, work across sectors, representation of a wide range of disciplines, and already established record of collaborative work.

The team is made up of a group of outstanding researchers. For example, Jocelyn Downie and Timothy Caulfield respectively hold Canada Research Chairs in Health Law and Policy. Timothy Caulfield also holds a career award from the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research. Colleen Flood was the Labelle Lecturer in health services research at McMaster University and is currently partially seconded to the Institute for Research in Public Policy to work on health policy issues. Bernard Dickens, Rebecca Cook, and Susan Sherwin are Fellows of the Royal Society of Canada. In addition, Bernard Dickens holds the Dr. William M. Scholl Professorship of Health Law and Policy at the University of Toronto, Rebecca Cook was awarded the Ludwik and Estelle Jus Memorial Human Rights Prize in 1998, Ingrid Sketris holds a CHSRF/CIHR Chair in Applied Health Services Research, and Susan Sherwin holds the George Munro Chair in Philosophy at Dalhousie University. Janice Graham is the recipient of a CIHR new investigator award and was recently named a Canada Research Chair in Bioethics.

These individuals, as well as other team members, are highly productive scholars producing between them dozens of influential books and hundreds of book chapters and peer-reviewed articles.

Students accepted to the CIHR Training Program in Health Law and Policy will enjoy the following opportunities:

  • to pursue graduate degrees at Dalhousie University, the University of Alberta, and the University of Toronto;
  • to attend and participate in an annual colloquium, where they will present their work;
  • to attend and participate in innovative interdisciplinary seminar series;
  • to work on research projects with a variety of transdisciplinary mentors;
  • to study at such leading health law and policy centres of excellence as the University of Houston and Loyola University at Chicago;
  • to qualify for placements or internships within Health Canada, provincial ministries of health, and health care organizations;
  • and to receive funding to support their Masters or Doctoral level studies at Dalhousie University, the University of Alberta, and the University of Toronto (minimum of $17,000 for full-time study or $8,500 for part-time study).


This year 12 students were accepted into the CIHR Training Program in Health Law and Policy.

Tom Archibald, BJ (Hon), LLB, LLM.
Tom attended Carleton University, where he received a Bachelor of Journalism, then studied at Osgoode Hall Law School before articling with the Toronto labour law firm of Koskie Minsky. Tom completed his Master of Laws at Queen’s University in 1998, his dissertation comparing nurse collective bargaining trends in Ontario and Quebec under hospital restructuring. After his call to the Bar in 1999, Tom entered the SJD Program at the University of Toronto. He is currently in the final drafting stages of his dissertation, and has worked on a wide range of health law and policy research projects during his time at Toronto.

Tom is examining the increasing challenges posed by health policy reform to collective bargaining by Canadian nurses, and the emerging need for a new labour law model tailored to the unique setting of professional employment in a single-tier Medicare system seeking greater cost-effectiveness in the delivery of care.

Lisa Forman, BA, LLB, MA.
Lisa qualified as a lawyer in South Africa with a BA and LLB from the University of the Witwatersrand, and practiced in HIV/AIDS law, advocacy and research in South Africa for several years before pursuing graduate studies. Lisa has a Masters in Human Rights from Columbia University, and she is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto addressing access to essential AIDS medicines.

Dennis Holland, BA, LLB.
Dennis is currently working as Senior Director Legislation, Policy, and Research with the Nova Scotia Department of Health. Dennis has developed a 4-year plan to review major pieces of health legislation in Nova Scotia, as well as overseeing the development of legislation and passage of legislative initiatives through the provincial legislature.

Dennis is pursuing his LLM degree in health law on a part-time basis and the focus of Dennis’s coursework is health law and legislation.

Leah Hutt, BA, LLB
Leah is studying at Dalhousie University. Leah graduated in 1993 from the Huron University College at the University of Western Ontario with a BA in History. She attended law school at Dalhousie University, graduating in 1997. Leah was called to the Nova Scotia Bar in 1998. She practiced in the litigation department of a large Halifax firm until she commenced her LLM in September 2002. Leah’s thesis work focuses on the ethics of paying research subjects for participation in health research.

Fiona McDonald, BA, LLB
Fiona is studying at Dalhousie University. Fiona is from Wellington, New Zealand and really enjoying it in Halifax. She’s made her first snow angel, been tobogganing and ice-skating for the first time. We keep telling her that the excitement will wear off after a few months. Fiona tells us that she misses the New Zealand summer though – cricket on the beach, barbeques and so on.

Fiona completed her BA in politics and her LL.B. at Victoria University of Wellington. After she graduated in 1999 she was admitted to the Bar as a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand and began work as a legal advisor to New Zealand’s Health and Disability Commissioner. The Health and Disability Commissioner’s responsibility is to protect and promote the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights; in short New Zealand’s patients’ rights legislation. As a legal advisor she provided legal advice to the Commissioner and investigators, assisted with investigation planning, undertook some investigations, gave educational presentations, wrote policy advice and did many other things. Then Fiona decided it was time to pursue another dream and returned to university to study health law at the graduate level. Her master’s degree is coursework focused, so she doesn’t have a thesis topic. However, her research interests are in the areas of medical error, mental health policy development in New Zealand and Nova Scotia, the use of physical restraints on the elderly in long-term care facilities, and governance in health care systems.

Martina Munden, BACS, LLB.
Martina completed her Bachelor of Arts Community Studies at the University College of Cape Breton in 1996 and graduated with her LLB, with a specialization in health law and policy, in 1999 from Dalhousie University. She was called to the Bar of Nova Scotia in 2000.

After working with the law firm of Patterson Palmer Hunt Murphy, Martina joined the Health Law Institute in September 2001 as a Research Associate. Her research interests are in the areas of mental health law, consent to treatment, health policy and legislative renewal.

Martina is currently providing services to the Department of Health on the renewal of health related legislation. Martina also guest lectures in the Faculties of Medicine and Health Professions.

Martina is completing her LLM on a part-time basis. Her thesis research is in focused Community Treatment Orders and their impact on women.

Remigius Nwabueze, BL, LLB, LLM, LLM.
Remigius completed his undergraduate law degree at the University of Nigeria, an LLM at the University of Lagos, and an LLM at the University of Manitoba. Remigius is currently an SJD candidate in the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto.

Remigius’ doctoral thesis is on “Biotechnology, Patents on Life Forms and Traditional Knowledge: Are New Technologies a Legal Instrument for Development or Biocolonialism?”

Remigius has a wide range of research interests including private international law or conflict of laws; property law; intellectual property; patent, copyright, trademark; international intellectual property law; biopiracy and biodiversity law; biodiversity, traditional medicinal knowledge & IP; biotechnology; genetics and the law; dead bodies and the law; regulatory and ethical issues in biomedical research; medical law; and indigenous or customary law. Remigius has just returned from a trip abroad where he attempted to explore the legal framework of research involving human beings in Nigeria.

Caroline Pitfield, BA, MA, LLB.
Caroline completed a BA in History and English at the University of Toronto, and an MA in History and Sociology of Science, Medicine and Technology at the University of Pennsylvania, prior to attending law school at the University of Toronto. She received her LLB in 2000 and articled at McMillan Binch in Toronto before being called to the Ontario bar. After practicing in the litigation department of the same firm, she returned to the University of Toronto to do an LLM and to pursue a long-standing interest in health law and patient advocacy.

Her thesis work is on administrative and constitutional challenges by patients and their advocates with respect to the quality of, and access to, health care services provided by provincial health insurance plans. Her research thus far has involved the critical examination of decisions rendered by specialized administrative appeal boards and courts in Canada in response to these challenges, with a view to assessing and comparing the accessibility and efficiency of these two mechanisms from a patient perspective.

Nola Ries, BA, LLB, MPA
Nola is completing a Master’s degree in Law at the University of Alberta, with a focus on health law. Her thesis research relates to the use of constitutional claims under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to challenge government resource allocation decisions in health care. Nola is a member of the Bar of British Columbia and has practiced law in the areas of constitutional, human rights and administrative law.

Lori Sheremeta, RT(N.M.)(assoc.) LLB.
Lori is currently a Research Associate at the Health Law Institute, University of Alberta. Lori worked as a research Assistant at the Health Law Institute between 1998 and 2000 whilst she attended law school. Lori completed her LL.B. in June 2000 and then articled at Oyen Wiggs Green and Mutala. Following her articles, and after being called to the Bar of British Columbia, Lori returned to the Health Law Institute to pursue research in the area of biotechnology and intellectual property. Lori is currently the recipient of the Alberta Law Foundation Scholarship in Health Law and Policy. Lori’s LL.M. thesis is focused on the legal, ethical and policy considerations of large scale population genetics studies and associated databanks.

Lori’s position at the Health Law Institute is funded in part by Genome Canada and in part by the Stem Cell Network. Lori has an interest in the intersection of intellectual property law and health policy both in Canada and abroad. Over the past year, Lori has co-authored background papers for Genome Canada and the CIHR on the state of GELS research in Canada and has been actively involved in research and writing on intellectual property related issues. Most notably she, Tim Caulfield and Richard Gold have co-authored a book chapter entitled “Harmonizing Commercialization and Gene Patent Policy with other Social Goals” to appear in a forthcoming publication of the proceedings of the 3rd Annual DNA Sampling Conference which was held in Montreal in September of this year. In addition, Lori has presented papers at the 3rd Annual DNA Sampling Conference, the Stem Cell Network Annual General Meeting, held in Mississauga in September 2002 and at the Canadian Bioethics Society annual meeting held in Victoria in October 2002.

In addition to her research duties, Lori sits on the University of Alberta Hospital Ethics Committee and has acted in an advisory capacity to the Cross Cancer Institute Research Ethics Board on matters concerning tissue and data banking. Lori has recently accepted an invitation to sit on the Scientific Advisory Board of the newly formed Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Society, a not-for-profit peer support group for individuals with strong family histories of breast and/or ovarian cancer.

Lisa Shields BA (Hon), LLB.
Lisa is currently pursuing studies towards an LLM at the University of Alberta with a focus on health law ethics. She obtained a BA (Hon) from Trent University with majors in philosophy and political science. As part of her studies at Trent, Lisa undertook a year of studies at a law school in France. She received a J.D. from the University of Toronto and then clerked with the Alberta Court of Appeal and Court of Queen’s Bench in Edmonton. After completing her articles, Lisa practiced in a wide variety of legal areas in Edmonton before commencing her LLM program. In addition to her studies, Lisa volunteers for a pro bono legal clinic, a mentorship program for high school students and joins her terrier in a pet therapy program. Lisa is also a member of the University of Alberta Pandas varsity wrestling team and the University of Alberta fencing club.

Sheila Wildeman, BA, MA, LLB.
Sheila articled in Toronto with the law firm Eberts Symes Street and Corbett in 1999/2000 and was called to the Bar in Ontario in February 2001. She was a Research Associate at the Health Law Institute at Dalhousie in 2001 and entered the S.J.D. program at the University of Toronto in September of 2002. Sheila’s thesis will explore certain theoretical and practical tensions in the legal framework for the committal and psychiatric treatment of persons deemed mentally ill. The focus is Ontario though other Canadian as well as U.S. jurisdictions will be canvassed as well.

Precedent & Innovation: Health Law in the 21st Century

Report on the Conference of
September 27 & 28, 2002
Health Law Institute,
University of Alberta


Attendance at the conference was excellent. The 180 registrants came from almost every province across the country, as well as the North West Territories. They included academics, researchers, health policy professionals, health care professionals, lawyers and students. The conference provided great opportunities for networking and discussions of future projects. In fact, feedback we received from the evaluations and verbally was that registrants had never before been able to meet with such a large number of their colleagues at one time and that it had been extremely beneficial.

Twenty-one posters were accepted following peer review. The majority were submitted by graduate students and provided an excellent opportunity for these presenters to participate. The quality of posters was outstanding and provided an opportunity for a number of students to attend the conference with assistance from a CIHR training grant. Students were provided with a reduced registration rate and a significant number of undergraduate students were also in attendance.


The quality of the sessions was excellent. There were twenty-seven speakers and chairs from Universities across Canada (Dalhousie, McGill, Toronto, Osgoode Hall, Ottawa, Victoria, Sherbrooke, Queen’s, and Alberta) and the topics that they covered (research involving human subjects, disability, genetics/ biotechnology, risk, health system/health law reform, malpractice/consent, health information, and new reproductive technologies) were well received. Feedback provided on the conference evaluations gave the sessions a good to excellent rating almost without exception. The speakers presented at a level that lead to much cross over between sessions and varied discussions.

Media Coverage

Health care reporters from the print media, television and radio attended specific presentations.

The public portion of the conference, the Picard Lecture, was advertised in the Edmonton Journal, with a good response. Dr. Conrad Brunk, Director, Centre for Studies in Religion and Society at the University of Victoria, gave a lecture entitled “Science and Public Perception: Understanding the Debate about Health and Environmental Risk”.


A number of the papers presented at the conference will be published in a special edition of the Health Law Journal, which will be available early in 2003.

Brent Windwick & Timothy Caulfield
Conference Co-Chair

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