The Centre held this day-long workshop for the 14th JASP (Journées annuelles de santé publique – annual public health days) on November 24, 2010, at the Centre des Congrès de Québec. The workshop explored the foundations and the theoretical and practical implications of ethical reflection in public health in Québec. A rich and energizing debate has emerged on the role and relevance of ethical analysis in and for population and public health. Quebec has shown significant vision in integrating public health ethics into practice and policy. In addition to being the only province to have instituted a Comité d’éthique de santé publique [public health ethics committee], Quebec has legislatively enshrined that mechanism, as well as a provincial public health institute and values distinct to public health.

The presentations are now available:

Agenda for the day: Public Health Ethics: A Tool for Deliberation and for the Development of Healthy Public Policies

Ethical Theories, Principlism and the Ethics of Discussion in Public Health
Raymond Massé, Full Professor, Département d’anthropologie, Université Laval and Director, “Éthique et santé publique” group, Réseau de recherche en santé des populations du Québec

Using ethics as a tool for deliberation and to influence the development of healthy public policy in the context of an implementation of supervised injection services
Mario Gagnon, General Manager of Point de Repères, Québec

Ethics as a Tool for Deliberation and for the Development of Healthy Public Policies:
The Case of Unsanitary Housing in Montreal

Stéphane Perron, Consulting Physician, Agence de la santé et des services sociaux de Montréal/Direction de santé publique

Integrating ethics into policy decision making: Consultation on the ethical issues in prenatal screening for Down syndrome in Quebec
Ghislaine Cléret de Langavant, Deputy Health and Welfare Commissioner, Ethics

Public Health Ethics: Choosing Frames Wisely
Susan Sherwin, University Research Professor, Emeritus, Department of Philosophy, Dalhousie University

Ethics and Decision Making in Public Health: Health, ethics, social norms and democracy
Richard Lessard, Director of Public Health, Agence de la santé et des services sociaux de Montréal

Metaphor and public health
Camil Bouchard, professeur associé, département de psychologie, Université du Québec à Montréal

Both approaches were explored in the workshop presentations, which included an historical overview and case studies of infectious and non-communicable disease control and harm reduction programs. The workshop, which aimed to broaden and deepen the leadership shown by Quebec health professionals and decision-makers in public health ethics, provided participants with a deeper understanding of how ethics can provide both the space and the language for a more thoughtful, democratic, and just process of healthy public policy making.
Underlying these developments are two approaches to the use of ethics as a tool for policy analysis. The first approach suggests that ethical analysis and deliberation among diverse actors can help chart out justifiable actions in the face of the scientific and moral uncertainty that surrounds many public health interventions, thereby enhancing their legitimacy and effectiveness. The second approach suggests that careful framing of conflicting values and principles can facilitate planning, implementation, and expansion of public health activities, particularly those with preventive and social justice orientations.