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Rationale/Objectives

We are witnessing spectacular developments in health research and these advances offer tremendous hope to patients. But the degree of hope offered is matched by the tremendous challenges posed by these advances. To the same extent that we encourage innovation in science we should and must also foster innovation in regulation and governance. But investments in scientific discovery far outstrip investments in the legal, regulatory, policy and governance tools and experts we need to make these scientific discoveries work for the public good.

In Canada today there is an acute shortage of researchers trained to deal with health law and policy challenges. The everyday experience of the applicants and key mentors bears testimony to this: we receive hundreds of calls from conference organizers needing speakers, the media needing interviews; and from various organizations needing papers, and we field inquiries from the government, providers, citizens and patients. We need more health law and policy scholars to respond to this flourishing demand and we need support to set up the institutional structures to enable those existing scholars that are stretched to capacity to most effectively train new scholars. In addition, health law experts are needed as policy makers in regional health authorities, hospitals and the federal and provincial/territorial governments.

The key rationale for this program is to address this shortage by delivering a new generation of health law an policy researchers who are trained to embrace a variety of disciplines. This will help to ensure that our regulatory and governance capacity matches our scientific capacity.

The objectives of the program are:

1. To encourage increasing numbers of excellent students in the undergraduate programs in law to pursue graduate studies in health law and policy;

2. To enrich the training of graduate students in health law and policy by providing them with multi-disciplinary learning opportunities through a variety of innovative programs and to facilitate this by providing support for mentors in other disciplines whose job description does not expand to supervising students in the faculties of law;

3. To increase the likelihood that skilled health law and policy researchers will seek career opportunities in government and public/quasi-public institutions by creating a series of placement and internship opportunities for students;

4. To 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.

The Selection Process

In order to enter the program, a student must be admitted into the graduate program of one of the three institutions (Dalhousie University, University of Alberta or University of Toronto). They must also make a separate application to the Selection Committee. This Committee will be comprised of Jocelyn Downie (Dalhousie), Colleen Flood (University of Toronto), and Tim Caulfield (University of Alberta).

The criteria for selection will be excellence in academic record; a commitment to multi-disciplinary research; a fit with available supervisory capacity; and a balance across the spectrum of health policy issues in order to more comprehensively meet the full range of needs of Canada’s health care system.

For further details see Application Information.

The Benefits and the Expectations

Stipends

Some of the students admitted to the Program will be offered stipends to support their graduate training – $17,000 per year for full-time and $8,500 for half-time.

Educational Opportunities

All of the students admitted to the Program will be offered the following educational opportunities.

1. Annual Colloquium

The annual colloquium, which is held on a rotating basis at the three institutions, provides students in the program with an opportunity to present and have their work critiqued by the mentors, representing a range of disciplines and institutions, and by other students engaged in health law and policy scholarship.

Law firms, government and health provider organizations (for example, the Canadian Medical Association, Regional Health Authorities, provincial medical, nursing, allied health professional, and alternative therapy associations, and provincial hospital associations are also invited to send participants to these colloquia. This provides students with feedback from individuals working in the health care sector, whether policy-makers or providers, and help create linkages between students and potential collaborators and employers.

2. Seminar Series

The Dalhousie Health Law Institute, the University of Toronto Faculty of Law and the Alberta Health Law Institute all have a seminar series in health law and policy. These seminar series attract both speakers and participants from a wide range of disciplines as well as from a wide range of institutions. Students at Dalhousie and the University of Toronto can take courses based upon the series talks.

The Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta also sponsors or co-sponsors a number of lectures, such as the Annual Picard Lecture, and offers a variety of public lecture series.

Dalhousie Seminar Series

University of Toronto Seminar Series

University of Alberta Seminar Series

3. Health Law And Policy Courses

The following range of courses are currently offered at the three participating institutions:

Dalhousie: Health Law; Health Care Ethics & Law; Advanced Medical Negligence; Health Systems Law and Policy; Health Law Placement with the Capital District Health Authority or the Nova Scotia Department of Health; Mental Disability Law; Research Ethics; Clinical Ethics; and Topics in Health Care Ethics

University of Toronto: Medical Jurisprudence; Health Systems Law and Policy; Ethical and Regulatory Issues in Medical Research and Drug Development; Reproductive and Sexual Health Law; and Psychiatry, Mental Health and the Law. The Faculty of Law offers the opportunity to do a course-based LL.M. degree with a specialization in health law and policy.

University of Alberta: Law and Medicine; Health Law and Bioethics; Fiduciary Law; Privacy Law; Biotechnology Law; Future Developments in the Practice of Health Law; and Placement with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.

4. Health Canada Internship

The internship program at Health Canada provides some students in the Program with the opportunity to learn about, and gain experience in, health law and policy from within government. Students spend three or six months working full-time in the Policy Planning and Priorities Directorate of the Health Policy and Communications Branch of Health Canada. Students perform a variety of duties including (but not limited to): preparation of issues and options papers; preparation of memoranda; provision of research assistance to Health Canada staff; preparation of background reports; participation in meetings; and participation in stakeholder consultations. Students have a supervisor at Health Canada and a mentor at their home university. The supervisor assigns work, reviews work with the students, and meets with the students regularly to give feedback, answer questions, and provide direction. The mentor is available for consultation on request and communicates with the student regularly to oversee activities, answer questions, and provide advice.

Students can take up an internship during an LLM, soon after completion of the LLM, and during a doctorate. They can do either a three-month or a six-month internship. Health Canada provides a stipend for a full-time placement in the amount of $15,000 for three months and $30,000 for six months. Interns are responsible for all costs associated with the internship (e.g., moving, travel, accommodation).

The Program Co-ordinating Committee makes the selection decisions. Students are selected on the basis of past academic performance and evidence of strong research and writing skills.

Expectations

Students in the Program will be expected to acknowledge the support given to them by the Program in any publications or presentations arising out of work conducted while in the Program. Students will also be expected to present at the Annual Colloquium if they choose to attend.

Evaluation of the Program

With information provided on a voluntary basis by the graduates, we will track the research activity of graduates (positions held, publication records, and conference presentations) as they move into academia, policy, or private practice. This process will feed into the evaluation process to help us assess the quality and effectiveness of the capacity building program and the information will be provided to the Program Advisory Committee (PAC). We will also develop a series of optional exit interviews for graduates of the program and use this information as well as the tracking information to make on-going changes to the program.

The Management Structure

Program Co-Ordinating Committee (PCC)

There are three members of the Program Co-Ordinating Committee (PCC): Jocelyn Downie (Dalhousie University), Colleen Flood (University of Toronto), and Tim Caulfield (University of Alberta).

The PCC has the following functions:

• selection of students for the program
• selection of recipients of stipend awards
• management of program staff (administrative staff and research assistants)
• organization of annual colloquia and curriculum network meetings
• organization of seminar series
• coordination of supervision
• development work on the sustainability of the program


There is also a Program Advisory Committee (PAC) which consists of Hugh Segal (Institute for Research in Public Policy); Michael Decter (President of the Canadian Institute for Health Information); Bob Rae (Goodman & Carr and former Premier of Ontario); and Honourable Madam Justice Ellen Picard (Member of the Alberta Court of Appeal and founder of the Alberta Health Law Institute). The PAC usually meets once a year at the time of the annual colloquia where the PCC will report on the operation of the program’s activities. The PAC reacts to this report and provides advice on the program’s current operations and how to ensure the program’s future growth and sustainability.

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