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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 96, Issue 4, pp 281–283 | Cite as

Legal Foundations for a National Public Health Agency in Canada

  • Nola M. Ries
  • Timothy Caulfield
Commentary

Abstract

This commentary addresses some of the key legal challenges associated with establishing a national public health agency in Canada. These include issues related to privacy and confidentiality of personal health information in the public health context, constraints on the jurisdiction and powers of a national agency, the need to respect individual rights and freedoms in an outbreak situation, and international cooperation in infectious disease control.

The authors are part of a research initiative, comprised of experts in law, public health policy and medicine, that is currently analyzing legal considerations that may influence the mandate of a national public health agency in regard to infectious disease activities. This article discusses critical issues raised at a meeting in August 2004 that brought the research team together with key federal and provincial policy-makers and members of the public health community.

The commentary emphasizes that law sets the foundation for public health activities, and the promise of a national public health agency will only be realized if significant legal issues are examined early on to ensure the agency is built on a robust legal and policy framework.

MeSH terms

Jurisprudence communicable disease control organization and administration 

Résumé

Ce commentaire porte sur certains des principaux défis juridiques associés à la création d’une agence nationale de santé publique au Canada: la protection des renseignements personnels et de la confidentialité des dossiers médicaux dans un contexte de santé publique, les contraintes liées aux compétences et aux pouvoirs d’une agence nationale, la nécessité de respecter les droits et libertés individuels en cas d’épidémie, et la coopération internationale dans la lutte contre les maladies infectieuses.

Les auteurs sont membres d’une équipe de recherche composée de spécialistes du droit, des politiques de santé publique et de la médecine, chargée d’analyser les aspects juridiques pouvant influer sur le mandat d’une agence nationale de santé publique dans sa lutte contre les maladies infectieuses. Le présent article examine les questions névralgiques qui ont été posées lors d’une réunion, en août 2004, entre les membres de l’équipe de recherche, des décideurs clés aux paliers fédéral et provincial et des intervenants en santé publique.

Le commentaire souligne que les activités de santé publique sont assujetties au cadre juridique, et qu’une agence nationale de santé publique ne peut donner sa pleine mesure que si l’on examine à l’avance les questions de droit importantes pour s’assurer que l’agence a des assises juridiques et politiques solides.

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References

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Health Law Institute, Law CentreUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Faculty of Law and Faculty of Medicine & DentistryUniversity of AlbertaCanada
  3. 3.Health Law InstituteUniversity of AlbertaCanada

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