Law as a Tool for Addressing Social Determinants of Health
Nola M. Ries, Tracey Bailey and Timothy Caulfield eds. Public Health Law & Policy in Canada, 3rd ed, 91-129, July 2013
40 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2013 Last revised: 30 Sep 2013
Date Written: 2013
Despite the fact that equality and equal access to health care are core Canadian values, the reality is that Canadians' health is overwhelmingly dictated by the unequal living conditions they experience – the social determinants of health. This chapter examines law as a tool for translating our understanding of health inequities into government action to address social determinants of health. The chapter provides a brief review of the findings and recommendations of some of the major Canadian reports in this area, followed by a review of international and domestic human rights guarantees that can be invoked to challenge health inequity in Canada. The final section examines the obstacles facing determinant of health-related claims, in particular, the continued reliance by Canadian courts on the outmoded distinction between positive and negative rights. The author concludes by suggesting that, rather than focusing on biomedical and lifestyle initiatives, social injustices must be addressed, and that moving forward on determinants of health requires action by all branches of government, including the courts.
Keywords: Canada, Canadian, law, legal, access, health care, equality, inequality, social determinants of health, poverty, human rights, international, domestic, health inequity, claims, positive, negative, social, injustice
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