Health Policy Ethics

Exploring the ethical issues in policy development

The scholarly activities of the Department of Bioethics in the health policy domain are primarily focused on the exploration of ethical issues and questions of relevance to meso-level policy development. That is to say, they focus on policy making within health organizations of the provincial health districts and government departments that broadly direct health care practice and shape the structural processes of health care delivery.

Social justice and the policy-making process

We have developed and published a socially just policy making process characterized by:

  • the establishment of a policy working group of core stakeholders and resource persons
  • the collaborative development of relevant substantive values and principles (to act as lenses for normative framing/interpretation and as criteria for decision making)
  • the use of an innovative deliberative engagement methodology


Our research in this field has recently expanded to explore the professionalization of health care ethics practitioners, and we are in the process of publishing our collaborative efforts with bioethics colleagues from across the country. The objective is to provide meaningful real-world examples of the relevant insights of a variety of social justice and deliberative democracy theories.

Recent direction of our scholarly work

In recent years, our scholarly work has also been directed toward addressing challenging questions about the allocation of limited health resources in the public health sector, and the policy-related analysis of complex health care practices. As you can see below, Drs. Jeff Kirby and Christy Simpson are heavily engaged in this work.

Selected publications

Kirby J, Simpson C. 2012. Deliberative Engagement: An inclusive methodology for exploring professionalization. HEC Forum 24(3): 187-201.

McDonald F, Simpson C, O’Brien F. 2008. Including Organizational Ethics in Policy Review Processes in Healthcare Institutions: A view from Canada. HEC Forum 20,2: 133-49.

Kirby J, Somers E, Simpson C, McPhee J. 2008. The Public Funding of Expensive Cancer Therapies: Synthesizing the ‘3Es’ – Evidence, economics and ethics. Organizational Ethics: Healthcare, Business, and Policy 4,2: 1-11.

Kirby J, Simpson C. 2007. An Innovative, Inclusive Process for Meso-level Health Policy Development. HEC Forum 19(2): 161-76.