I am a professor at the Université de Moncton Faculty of Law and a lawyer who is a member of the Quebec Bar. I am also an associate professor with the Canada Research Chair in Collaborative Culture in Health Law and Policy: http://www.chairesante.ca/ and an ethics instructor for medical students at the Centre de formation médicale du Nouveau-Brunswick. I am a member of different committees in the fields of research ethics (Université de Moncton, New Brunswick Community College) and medical ethics (Dr. Georges-L. Dumont Hospital).
2) What is your educational background?
I am currently writing my doctoral thesis at the Université de Montréal’s Faculty of Law under the direction of Professor Patrice Deslauriers. My thesis focuses on the evidence-based medicine program and how it is being received in law through the emergence of non-regulatory sources of guidance of the physician’s clinical activity.
I completed my master’s and bachelor’s degrees in Law at Université de Montréal. During the period I was completing my undergraduate studies, I worked as a law clerk at the Quebec Court of Appeal for Judge Jacques Dufresne.
3) Talk a little about your career path? Where did your passion for the research/work that you do originate and how did it develop?
I am particularly interested in health law, medical responsibility and deontology, and I have written several publications in the field, notably a monograph entitled Le contrôle de l’activité du médecin exerçant en centre hospitalier (2012) and most recently a Code de déontologie des médecins, Édition annotée et commentée (2016).
My professional practice in law – notably at a law firm with a client base made up largely of the Collège des médecins du Québec and other professional associations from the health sector – had a great influence on me and allowed me to gain firsthand experience of the issues affecting medical professionals.
On a smaller scale, my interest in the field of health is reflected through my commitment to the health sector and is seen in my participation in different ethics committees (hospitals, universities and colleges), as well as my involvement as a professional responsibility specialist, notably in the foundation of a brand new Osteopathy program at Université de Sherbrooke and an interdisciplinary master’s program in Health at Université de Moncton.
This professional experience continues to have a profound impact on my fields of research, and most of my projects that include a publishing aspect are aimed at a diverse readership that is made up not only of legal experts, but also a variety of health stakeholders, such as different professional associations (physicians, nurses, dentists, midwives, etc.), as well as the many healthcare administrators for whom ethical matters have become a part of their everyday practice.
This interest in health can also be seen in the different research teams at the national (McGill University’s Centre of Genomics and Policy) and international (Université Paris-8, Centre Alexandre-Koyré) level that I have the pleasure of leading and that are concerned with issues such as the rights of the child, research ethics, mental health and the new modalities of the practice of clinical medicine.
As a meeting point of (bio)medical rationality and regulatory rationality, health law offers a unique opportunity to anyone interested in epistemology and the way that law (re)builds and perceives the medical practice and how, in return, these concepts affect current medical practices. In my opinion, law and medicine are deeply linked, and this is one of my most “fundamental” research subjects.
4) Tell us about one or two of your current projects?
a) Léger-Riopel, Nicholas et Deslauriers, Patrice. Code de déontologie des médecins du Québec annoté, Cowansville, Éditions Yvon Blais, 2015.
This is the first Canada-wide project of an annotated and commented edition of a code of medical deontology.
The project was prepared in collaboration with Maître Patrice Deslauriers, professor at the Université de Montréal’s Faculty of Law, and Jean-Louis Baudouin, who used to work as a law professor and judge at the Quebec Court of Appeal and who now works as legal counsel at a reputable law firm.
The collaboration with two of the best at the national and international level in the world of medical and deontological responsibility, combined with the entirely new nature of the proposed initiative, leads us to anticipate considerable recognition of this project, particularly at the national level.
Moreover, the project is aimed at a diverse readership made up not only of lawyers, but also a variety of stakeholders from the health environment that are different professional associations (physicians, nurses, midwives, etc.), as well as the many healthcare administrators for whom ethical considerations have become a part of routine practice.
b) Léger-Riopel, Nicholas (Université de Moncton) et Neuville, Tarik (Université Paris-8), “Les tradi‑pratiques thérapeutiques et leur reception par le droit à l’ère des chartes des droits fondamentaux” (2014-).
I am in the process of drafting a paper, in collaboration with a political science researcher working at Université Paris 8. This paper is on the legal issues related to the increase in the traditional healing trend, in other words all the therapeutic and health practices, based on traditional knowledge, that can be carried out alongside local health services among an often surprising proportion of Western populations. These practices often lead to specific questions such as: is the physician acting illegally? What framework is required? How do courts deal with the traditional healing trend? How is traditional healing recognized from the point of view of healthcare practitioners? When traditional healing is supported by a religious practice, does it gain entrenched protection based on fundamental rights?
This research will involve a search of literature in the field of law as well as psychiatry and anthropology, at the national level, but also in a manner that takes into consideration certain solutions that can be drawn from other, similar jurisdictions.
5) How do you see your research/work in terms of possibly contributing to evidence-based public policy?
The example of my doctoral work comes to mind.
I am currently writing my doctoral thesis on the reception of clinical guidelines for use in clinical practice settings, in Canadian, British and American law. This subject will allow me to examine the particular matter of the status of “soft law” in the establishment of medical responsibility. It could also be useful for a variety of stakeholders interested in the status of policies, directives and guides, and their status as basis for legal requirements.
This work follows on the heels of different explorations over recent years on the issue of the status of clinical guidelines in the hospital setting, on the matter of evidence-based medicine and that of the economic analysis of law. The capacity of healthcare institutions to manage the allocation of their medical, material and human resources and pharmaceuticals is of great interest to me, given that increasingly scarce resources in the healthcare system lead to inevitable issues linked to the changing needs of an aging population. This reflection naturally leads to others: what about the matter of medically-assisted death? What about the status of informal caregivers who are playing a greater role and the numbers of whom are growing rapidly across Canada? What about the user’s right to treatment in a system that faces a lack of resources?
Aside from my doctoral thesis, on a national scale, I am currently writing an initial draft of one of the first Canadian projects – which is to be published simultaneously in French and English – on the tortious responsibility of healthcare institutions in Canadian law.
This publication project represents an extension of my research work that is being published in collaboration with Maître Marie-Ève Henrichon, a health lawyer working in the field. The work is to be published in both English and French. The French volume will be published by Lexis Nexis Canada and the English version will be published at the same time by Markham.
A quick study of what is available in terms of publications on health law reveals that the proposed work will fill a void, in both official languages.
A variety of aspects related to the responsibility of the health institution will be explored in this work. In the context of the work, responsibility here will be based on much more than the simple framework of civil responsibility as understood in its most basic sense. Circumstances that can lead to the institution’s criminal accountability may receive particular treatment.
Also, the role recognized by Canadian courts in relation to directives, policies, guides and protocols that provide a framework for the physician’s work will allow us to examine the role of these standards with respect to the establishment of responsibility.
6) Discuss any past achievements that were significant to your professional path? Have any contributed to the promotion of evidence-based public policy?
As a member of the NBSPRN, I had the opportunity to take part in a discussion table on the prevention of harm to children. Ultimately this process led to the drafting of a provincial Strategy on the issue.
In November 2015, I was advised that the Provincial Strategy for the Prevention of Harm for Children and Youth, including a foreword by the Honourable Brian Gallant, premier of New Brunswick, had been published. I had the honour of contributing to this project, along with, notably, other Université de Moncton professors.
This Strategy was led by the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate and is aimed at providing a five-year plan to help keep children safe from harm. It involves the community, political bodies, non-profit organizations, etc. In short, the methodology adopted was aimed at maintaining a varied, representative portrait of New Brunswick to develop the Strategy. “As a social contract process, the Roundtable sought to fully engage all sectors of society and ensure that the experiential voice and opinions of youth in relation to harm to children is heard and considered.”
In a very real sense, the Strategy provides different avenues aimed at integrating the rules of international law concerning the protection of children and youth. The guiding principles that were adopted are innovative and include the sociocultural, economic and emotional dimensions of harm that can be done to children.
From a theoretical perspective, this Strategy offers a vast vision of the concept of “health” and harm and incorporates the cultural, spiritual and linguistic dimension that is increasingly synchronous with recent developments in the field of health science.
7) Describe in a couple of sentences your involvement with the NBSPRN and how your relationship with the Network has contributed to your research/work and/or to social/economic policy?
The NBSPRN is a powerful tool for the researcher. The NBSPRN has played an important role in my career, as a tool to be used for scientific networking, organizing scientific events and as a platform for the distribution of recent research studies. Moreover, the NBSPRN regularly provides information on funding opportunities that can make a difference in the viability of a research project.
8) Any last thoughts?
I sincerely thank you for this invitation and look forward to continuing to work with the NBSPRN.