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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

Martha Jackman

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section

Date Written: 2013

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Jackman, Martha, Law as a Tool for Addressing Social Determinants of Health (2013). Nola M. Ries, Tracey Bailey and Timothy Caulfield eds. Public Health Law & Policy in Canada, 3rd ed, 91-129, July 2013. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2319200

Martha Jackman (Contact Author)

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, K1N 6N5
Canada

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