The College of Medicine was delighted to be a part of the Second Annual Saskatchewan Access to Justice Week! On October 18th, 2017 at noon in the College of Law, we had the pleasure of co-coordinating the lecture, Expanding Engagement: Creating Connections Between Delivery of Justice and Health Service, delivered by Michelle Leering, Executive Director of the Community Advocacy and Legal Centre in Belleville, Ontario. Michelle spoke about the promise of justice and health partnerships, and the vital role justice and health partnerships have to play in increasing access to justice in Saskatchewan. As Michelle described, justice and health partnerships have emerged as a holistic and proactive approach to address intersecting health and justice issues, the social determinants of health and health disparities in communities. While such partnerships are commonly seen in the United States and Australia, justice and health partnerships are only just beginning to appear in Canada, with one excellent example being the Rural Justice and Health Partnerships Project founded by Michelle in Ontario.
The lecture helped to continue the dialogue that began at the College of Law’s Dean’s Forum on Access to Justice and Dispute Resolution in March of this year. On March 1st, 2017, the College of Law hosted their Fifth Annual Dean’s Forum on Access to Justice and Dispute Resolution. Again, the College of Medicine participated as one of the topics centered on expanding engagement between justice and health services here in Saskatchewan. Three common themes arose during the meeting: (i) the focus of all collaborations should be benefits to patients or clients; (ii) more research must be done regarding all connections between health and justice and the types of collaborations best able to serve patients and clients; and (iii) the interdisciplinary education of students and active professionals should be prioritized. The group also identified key goals/principles and options for steps moving forward, which can be viewed here.
We hope to continue the collaboration between the College of Medicine and the College of Law with events in the future and would like to extend a special thanks to the 60 + people in attendance from both justice and health sectors – faculty, practitioners, students and administrators. We look forward to what we might see in terms of future interdisciplinary and interprofessional collaborations here in Saskatchewan. We hope this is just the beginning and look forward to many more conversations to come.
This lecture was made possible by the Office of the Vice-President Research Visiting Lecture Fund at the University of Saskatchewan, with support from CREATE Justice, and the Division of Social Accountability, College of Medicine.