Youth Health Rights in Canada: Discussion Paper

Researched and prepared by: Jennifer L. Gibson, PhD (JCB), Angel Petropanagos, PhD (JCB), Lee Ann Chapman, JD (Sick Kids), Randi Zlotnik-Shaul, LLM, PhD (Sick Kids and JCB).

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In Canada, children and youth have health rights that are protected through various federal, provincial and territorial laws and regulations. However, many young people are not aware of these rights, and even those who are may face barriers in the exercise of their rights, particularly in accessing health services.

To bridge this gap, the Young Canadians Roundtable on Health (YCRH) engaged the University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics (JCB) to establish a knowledge base that will inform subsequent phases of YCRH’s Health Rights and Responsibilities Project, which is a partnership with the AstraZeneca Canada Young Health Program. The specific objectives of this research collaboration were to:

  1. Describe the legal rights of youth in Canada with respect to health, and
  2. Identify key barriers faced by youth in Canada in seeking to exercise their health rights.

In this Discussion Paper, the JCB team summarizes key findings of their legal analysis and scoping review, identifies key gaps in knowledge and practice, and suggests possible future directions to inform subsequent stages of the YCRH Health Rights and Responsibilities Project based on these findings.