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Jocelyn Downie

  • Fellow 2015
  • Alumni
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Faculties of Law and Medicine at Dalhousie Unversity

    Jocelyn Downie’s engagement with COVID-19 has so far focused on personal directives and critical care triage protocols. On the former, she has been raising public awareness of a free online app that she developed with the Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia that enables Nova Scotians to create a document to ensure that their wishes for health and other personal care are followed should they become incapable of speaking for themselves. On the latter, she has been advocating for the protection from liability and professional sanction of health care providers who follow critical care triage protocols (e.g., withholding or withdrawing a ventilator from a critically-ill patient who might benefit from artificial ventilator support) and advocating for the adoption of ethically defensible and scientifically sound protocols for the allocation of scarce critical care resources. She believes equity analysis should be central in coronavirus-related public policy (particularly in relation to race, poverty, gender, and disability and in relation to individuals in prisons, care homes, nursing homes, and without homes). Jocelyn Downie is a member of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation’s COVID-19 Impact Committee.

    Jocelyn Downie is a professor in the Faculties of Law and Medicine at Dalhousie University. She first trained in philosophy at Queen's University and the University of Cambridge -- all with an emphasis on bioethics. She then shifted to law and completed her LLB at the University of Toronto and her LLM and SJD at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Her professional career began in bioethics at the Westminster Institute for Ethics and Human Values in London, Ontario. She began her professional career in law clerking for Chief Justice Lamer of the Supreme Court of Canada.

    Bringing the two together, she then directed the Health Law Institute at Dalhousie University for ten years. Of particular relevance to her Trudeau project, Jocelyn Downie served as the special consultant to the Senate Committee on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, published Dying Justice: A Case for the Decriminalization of Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide (which won the Abbyann D. Lynch Medal in Bioethics from the Royal Society of Canada), and was a member of the legal team in Carter v. Canada, the Royal Society of Canada Expert Panel on End of Life Decision-Making, the Provincial/Territorial Expert Advisory Group on Physician-Assisted Dying, and the Council of Canadian Academies Expert Panel on Medical Assistance in Dying. She seeks to discuss assisted death in venues from high schools to regional professional meetings to conferences around the world; through media spanning academic journals, blogs, radio, television; and with audiences ranging from hospital patients to healthcare providers, legal practitioners, academics, politicians, civil servants, and the general public.