Social Determinants and Marginalized Populations
Joanna Erdman, Vanessa Gruben & Erin Nelson, eds., Canadian Health Law and Policy, 5th ed. (Toronto: LexisNexis, 2017) 527
22 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2017
Date Written: September 01, 2017
Through the lens of social determinants of health, this paper examines the relationship between law and health equity. It first considers the adverse impact of law on marginalized populations' health, namely, law as a "health determinant," by drawing on the experiences of newcomers to Canada as a case study. It then moves upstream to illustrate how law also serves as a "distributive determinant" in newcomers' adverse health experiences. By alienating, stereotyping, and disempowering newcomers, law plays a central part in the group’s relegation to the bottom of the social hierarchy, which puts them at a disadvantage when it comes to the distribution of health-related risks and resources. The paper concludes with a brief examination of the potential of law as a tool for narrowing health disparities. It urges the Canadian judiciary to pay heed to international human rights norms that regard equitable access to social determinants of health as integral to the realization of all people's right to health.
Keywords: social determinants of health; marginalization; migrants
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