Book Review: The Legal Responsibilities of Healthcare Facilities in Canada

Several times each month, we are pleased to republish a recent book review from the Canadian Law Library Review (CLLR). CLLR is the official journal of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL/ACBD), and its reviews cover both practice-oriented and academic publications related to the law.

The Legal Responsibilities of Healthcare Facilities in Canada. By Nicholas Léger-Riopel. Toronto: LexisNexis Canada, 2020. 128 p. Includes table of contents and bibliographical references. ISBN 978-0-433-49172-9 (softcover) $115.00.

Reviewed by Alisa Lazear
Manager, Community and Content
Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII)
In CLLR 46:1

The Legal Responsibility of Healthcare Facilities in Canada serves as a practical and concise guide on the legal and organizational issues that stem from the responsibilities of healthcare institutions. The book examines the current state of the law in both the Quebec civil law and Canadian common law systems. Author Nicholas Léger-Riopel is a lawyer and professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Moncton, and his research focusses on medical and health care law, professional responsibility, and ethical and disciplinary law.

The book is divided into eight chapters: “Elements of Organization of the Canadian Healthcare Network,” “The Healthcare Establishment’s Institutional Responsibility,” “The Particular Case of Mental Health,” “Allocation of Health Resources: Responsibility, Immunity and Accountability,” “Health Services and Fundamental Rights: Particular Problems; Environmental Responsibility of Healthcare Institutions,” and “Penal Responsibility and Healthcare Establishments.”

The book begins by discussing the objectives of the Canada Health Act, along with the federal and provincial mechanisms in the Canadian healthcare system. The author reminds us that health care in Canada is funded, delivered, and regulated under a complex and continuously evolving system of rules and policy makers. The second chapter, the lengthiest, discusses the legal relationship between the patient and the healthcare establishment, touching upon tort and contract-based law. It examines the relationships between patients and the players in the healthcare system, including physicians, nurses, residents, contractors, and administrators. It also addresses obligation-specific duties of the healthcare establishment such as the selection of employees, monitoring the activity of medical personnel, and maintenance of equipment. 

The author takes on a great challenge, discussing the responsibilities of healthcare facilities in both the common law and civil law systems and succinctly condensing this discussion into 128 pages. By taking this approach, making it available in French, and carefully articulating complex legal and medical concepts, the author ensures that a wide-ranging audience may benefit from this work. The drawback of condensing a vast amount of content is that the commentary does not always allow for in-depth discussion on a topic.

Despite this, the author provides detailed footnotes, allowing readers to engage in deeper learning through references to legislation, case law, monographs, journal articles, and government documents. For a more extensive discussion, I would recommend consulting key legal treatises in health law, the Canadian Health Facilities Law Guide by Beth Marshall and Diane Kelly (Toronto: LexisNexis Canada, 2003–), for example. 

Aimed at healthcare administrators, legal practitioners in health law, physicians, medical students, and government employees, this book serves as a handy and compact starting point for anyone interested in exploring the healthcare system in Canada. The book is written in an approachable style, providing concise information on general and specific concepts. This facilitates its use as a quick reference tool. I would recommend this book to law librarians and information professionals who are working in health and medical law and are seeking to add a practical guide to their collection.

Start the discussion!

Leave a Reply

(Your email address will not be published or distributed)