Katherine Fierlbeck

Chair / McCulloch Professor of Political Science

k fierlbeck

Email: K.Fierlbeck@dal.ca
Phone: (902) 494-6631
Mailing Address: 
Department of Political Science, Rm 344, Henry Hicks Bldg Dalhousie University, 6283 Alumni Crescent, PO Box 15000 Halifax, NS B3H 4R2
Research Topics:
  • Health care politics
  • Health care governance
  • Comparative health policy
  • Canadian political thought
  • Theories of governance and policy formation
  • Normative and historical political theory
  • Epistemological political theory



  • University of Alberta (B.A. Hon.)
  • York University (M.A.)
  • Cambridge University (Ph.D.)
  • University of Alberta (PDF)

Selected Publications:


Public Policy Challenges in Rethinking Public Health: Comparative Perspectives. World Scientific Publishing, 2024

The Boundaries of Medicare: Public Health Care Beyond the Canada Health Act (with Gregory Marchildon). McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2023.

Fierlbeck, K., and Joaquin Cayon de las Cuevas, eds. Health Law and Policy from East to West: Analytical Perspectives and Comparative Case Studies. Thomson Reuters/Editorial Aranzadi SAU, 2022

Transparency, Power, and Influence in the Pharmaceutical Industry: Policy Gain or Confidence Game? ed. with M. Herder and J. Graham), University of Toronto Press, 2021

Nova Scotia: A Health System Profile (University of Toronto Press, 2018)

Comparative Health Care Federalism, with H.Palley (Ashgate Press, 2015)

Health Care Federalism in Canada, with W. Lahey (McGill-Queens University Press 2013)

Health Care in Canada  (University of Toronto Press 2011)

Globalizing Democracy  (Manchester University Press 1998, 2nd edition 2008)

Political Thought in Canada: An Intellectual History  (University of Toronto Press/Broadview, 2006)

The Development of Political Thought in Canada (University of Toronto Press/Broadview 2005)

Edited special Issues:  

Journal of Health Politics, Policy, and Law (February 2021).  


"The Scope and Nature of Private Health Care in Canada". C.D, Howe Institute (January 2024) https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4705799

"Strategies and indicators to integrate health equity in health service and delivery systems in high income countries: A scoping review". JBI Evidence Synthesis. Caldwell, H.A.T., Yusuf, J., Carrea, C., Conrad, P., Embrett, M., Fierlbeck, K., Hajizadeh, M., Kirk, S.F.L., Rothfus, M., Sampalli, T., Sim, S.M., Tomblin Murphy, G., Williams, L, 2024

“Healthcare in federal systems.” Politics and Governance. Vol. 11, No. 3 (2023), 289-299. https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v11i3.6706

“Institutional Ethnography as Critical Policy Analysis: Innovations for guiding policy research.” Critical Studies. Elizabeth McGibbon, Katherine Fierlbeck, and Tari Ajadi. Forthcoming Fall 2022.  

“Health inequity and institutional ethnography: mapping the problem of policy change." Witness: The Canadian Journal of Critical Nursing Discourse. Elizabeth McGibbon, Katherine Fierlbeck, and Tari Ajadi. Vol.2, No. 3 (2021). 

“What strategies and indicators are health service and delivery systems using to address health equity? A scoping review protocol.” JBI Evidence Synthesis. Meaghan Sim, Hilary Caldwell, Sara Brushett. Emma Cameron, Mohammed Hajizadeh, Sara Kirk, Katherine Fierlbeck, Tara Sampalli, Mark Embrett, Melissa Rothfus. (2021) Aug. DOI: 10.11124/jbies-21-00001. PMID: 34374690.

“Fare well to Nova Scotia? Public health investments remain chronically underfunded” Hilary A. T. Caldwell, Sara Scruton, Katherine Fierlbeck, Mohammad Hajizadeh, Shivani Dave, Meaghan Sim, Sara F. L. Kirk. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 112, pages186–190 (2021) https://doi.org/10.17269/s41997-021-00478-8.

“Health care and the fate of Social Europe.” Journal of Health Politics, Policy, and Law (February 2021).

“An expert-generated tool for assessing policy capacity”, Canadian Public Administration Logan Lawrence, Katherine Fierlbeck, Patrick McGrath, Janet Curran. June 2020.

“Amalgamating provincial health authorities: assessing the experience of Nova Scotia,” Health Reform Observer 7/3, September 2019, Article 3. DOI: https://doi.org/10.13162/hro-ors.v7i3.4046

“Readiness to collaborate scale: how ready are obstetrical practitioners to participate in an interprofessional healthcare team?” Journal of Interprofessional Education and Practice 13. Jennifer Murdoch, Gail Tomblin Murphy, Robert Alder, John Gilbert, Katherine Fierlbeck, Audrey Steenbeek. December 2018, 73-80.

“Is New Public Governance Useful in Thinking About Health Care? Health Technology Assessment in Canada.” Katherine Fierlbeck, Bill Gardner and Adrian Levy, Canadian Public Administration, March 2018.

“Reforming the regulation of therapeutic products in Canada: The Protecting Canadians from Unsafe Drugs Act (Vanessa’s Law).” Health Reform Observer 4/4 (November 2016). Condensed version of this article (edited by Alex Titeu) also published in the Health Systems and Policy Monitor, October 2017

“The Politics of Regionalization,” HealthcarePapers 16/1 (2016), 58-62.

“Legislating Collaborative Self-Regulation in Canada: A Comparative Policy Analysis.” William Lahey and Katherine Fierlbeck, Journal of Interprofessional Care 30/2. March 2016, 211-216.

“Breaking the Deadlock: Towards a New Intergovernmental Relationship in Canadian Healthcare” (with William Gardner and Adrian Levy). HealthcarePapers 14/3 (Oct 2014), 7-15.

The Changing Contours of Experimental Governance in European Health Care,” Social Science and Medicine (v. 108, May 2014), 89-96.

“Public Health and Collaborative Governance,” Canadian Public Administration (March 2010).

“Canadian Democracy,” essay for Library and Archives Canada’s “Forum on Canadian Democracy “project. Published online by LAC 2008 at http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/democracy/023023‑3001‑e.html

“Whatever Happened to Regionalization? The Curious Case of Nova Scotia,” (with Martha Black), Canadian Public Administration v.49, n.4 (Winter 2006), 506-526.

“Political Imperatives and Normative Justifications: Response to Joyce Green,” in The Canadian Journal of Political Science, June 2000.

“Policy and Ideology: The Politics of Post-Reform Health Policy in the United Kingdom,” in the International Journal of Health Services, v. 26, n. 3 (1996).

“The Ambivalent Potential of Cultural Identity,” in The Canadian Journal of Political Science, March 1996.

“Getting Representation Right for Women in Development,” in The IDS Bulletin, July 1995 (also published as a book chapter, as noted below).

“Marketing Care: The Politicization of Health Care in Britain,” in Studies in Political Economy, Fall 1994.

“Economic Liberalization as a Prologue to Democracy,” in The Canadian Journal of Development Studies, July 1994.

“Redefining Responsibility: The Politics of Citizenship in the UK,” in The Canadian Journal of Political Science, September 1991.

Book chapters

“Policy, politics, and pandemics,” in Public Health Political Science: Integrating Science and Politics for Public Health, (with Kevin McNamara and Maureen MacDonald). Patrick Fafard, Evelyne de Leeuw, and Adele Cassola, eds. Palgrave-Macmillan, 2022. 

“Have the Post-SARS Reforms prepared us for COVID-19? Mapping the Institutional Landscape” (with Lorian Hardcastle). Vulnerable: The Policy, Law, and Ethics of COVID-19. Colleen Flood, Vanessa MacDonnell, Jane Philpott, and Sophie Theriault Sridhar Venkatapurum, eds. (Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2020).  

“Health Care in the Provinces,” in Provinces: Canadian Provincial Politics, 3rd ed. Christopher Dunn, ed. University of Toronto Press, 2015; 442-470.

“Canada,”, in Comparative Health Care Federalism. Ashgate, 2015.

“Mon Pays, C’est l’Assurance-Maladie,” in Policy Thinking Outside the Box: Innovation in Policy Ideas. K. Banting, R. Chaykowski and S. Lehrer, editors. School of Policy Studies, in association with McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2015; 67-90.

“Three Approaches to Cost Containment in Health Care Federalism,” in Greg Marchildon and Livio de Matteo, eds. Bending the Cost Curve. University of Toronto Press, 2014; 169-191.

“The Political Dynamics of Health Care Federalism,” in Fierlbeck and Lahey, eds. Health Care Federalism in Canada: Critical Junctures and Critical Perspectives. McGill-Queen’s University Press. 2013; 45-70

“Renewing Federalism, Improving Health Care: Can This Marriage Be Saved?” in Fierlbeck and Lahey, eds. Health Care Federalism in Canada: Critical Junctures and Critical Perspectives. McGill-Queen’s University Press. 2013; 3-23.

“The Dialectics of Law and Politics: Federal Health Policy in Canada and the EU,” in Finn Laursen, ed. The European Union and Federalism: Polities and Policies Compared (Ashgate Press, 2010). 

“Romancing the State”, in Bruce Morrison, ed. Transnational Democracy: Lessons from the Nation State. Ashgate Press, 2003.    

“Paying to Play: Government Financing and Health Care Agenda Setting,” in Gregory Marchildon, Tom McIntosh, and PG Forest, eds. The Fiscal Sustainability of Health Care. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003.

“Cost Containment in Health Care: The Federalism Context,” in Duane Adams, ed. The Canadian Social Union: Case Studies from the Health Sector, McGIll-Queen’s University Press, 2001.

“The Right to Health Care,” in Don Carmichael, Tom Pocklington, and Greg Pyrcz, eds. Democracy, Rights, and Well-Being in Canada. Harcourt-Brace Canada, 1999.

“Multiculturalism and the Right to Recognition,” in Don Carmichael, Tom Pocklington, and Greg Pyrcz, eds. Democracy, Rights, and Well-Being in Canada. Harcourt-Brace, 1999.

“Getting Representation Right for Women in Development,” in A.M. Goetz, ed. Breaking In, Speaking Out: Making Development Organizations Work for Women in Development. London: Zed Books, 1998.

“Canadian Health Care Reform and the Politics of Decentralization,” in Christa Altenstetter and James Bjorkman, ed. Health Reform, National Variations, and Globalization.  London: Macmillan (NY: St Martin’s Press), 1997.          


Service and Activity:

Dr. Fierlbeck is cross-appointed to the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, the Department of International Development Studies, and the European Studies Program. She is a Senior Research Fellow at the Healthy Populations Institute, and is on the research committee for the MacEachen Institute for Public Policy. Dr. Fierlbeck is Director of the Jean Monnet Network for Health Law and Policy (http://jmhealthnet.org/), an EU-funded network promoting research on health law and policy across Europe and North America. Her current CIHR-funded research includes a project investigating upstream determinants of effective COVID-19 response: learning from comparisons across Canada's provinces and another looking at the impact of retirement income programs on health and health equity among Canadian seniors.