Jocelyn Downie

Professor of Law; Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Fellow; Faculties of Law and Medicine; Adjunct Professor, Australian Centre for Health Law Research - QUT

Phone: 902-494-6883
Mailing Address: 
Room 319, Weldon Law Building, 6061 University Avenue
PO Box 15000 Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4R2
Research Topics:
  • Public policy and law
  • Health law
  • Health care ethics
  • Health policy
  • Legal ethics
  • End-of-life law
  • Women's health


  • BA (Queen's)
  • MA (Queen's)
  • MLitt (Cambridge)
  • LLB (Toronto)
  • LLM (Michigan, Ann Arbor)
  • SJD (Michigan, Ann Arbor)

Bar admission

Nova Scotia, 2000


Jocelyn Downie teaches health care ethics and law as well as legal ethics and professional responsibility in the law school.

  • LAWS 2099: Legal Profession and Professional Responsibility 
  • LAWS 2115: Health Care Ethics and the Law 

Areas of supervision: Public policy and the law, health law and policy, legal ethics

Research interests

Jocelyn Downie works at the intersection of health care ethics, law, and policy. She has a particular interest in end-of-life law and women's health.

Selected awards & honours

  • Order of Canada (2018)
  • President's Research Excellence Award - Research Impact (2018)
  • The Canadian Academy of Health Sciences Scientific Lecture Award (2016)
  • Trudeau Fellow (2015)
  • Dalhousie University Research Professor
  • CIHR Barer-Flood Prize for Health Services and Policy Research
  • Fellow, Royal Society of Canada
  • Fellow, Canadian Academy of Health Sciences
  • Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy (2003–13)
  • Canadian Association of Law Teachers Award (2008)
  • IWK Health Centre Research Centre of Excellence Scholar Award (2003–08)
  • Abbyann D. Lynch Medal in Bioethics, Royal Society of Canada (2005)
  • Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation Award of Excellence in Medical Research (2003)


Selected publications

  • Jocelyn Downie & Kate Scallion, “Foreseeably Unclear: The Meaning of the ‘Reasonably Foreseeable’ Criterion for Access to Medical Assistance in Dying in Canada” (forthcoming, Dalhousie Law Journal).
  • Françoise Baylis & Jocelyn Downie, “Where There’s Smoke, There’s Pfizer” in Françoise Baylis and Alice Dreger, eds., Bioethics in Action (Cambridge University Press, 2018) 9-31.
  • Jocelyn Downie & Richard Liu, “The Legal Status of Deep and Continuous Palliative Sedation Without Artificial Nutrition and Hydration” (2018) 12:1 McGill Journal of Law & Health 29-66.
  • Jocelyn Downie, “Social Science and Humanities Evidence in Charter Litigation: Lessons from Carter v Canada (Attorney General)” (2018) 22:3 The International Journal of Evidence & Proof 305–313. 
  • Jocelyn Downie, “An Alternative to Medical Assistance in Dying?: The Legal Status of Voluntary Stopping Eating and Drinking (VSED)” (2018) 1:2 Canadian Journal of Bioethics 48-58.
  • Ben White, Lindy Willmott, Jocelyn Downie, & Eliana Close, “Withholding and Withdrawing Potentially Life-Sustaining Treatment: Who Should Decide?” in Ian Freckelton ed., Tensions and Traumas in Health Law (Leichhardt, Australia: Federation Press, 2017) 454-478.
  • Jocelyn Downie, “End of Life Law and Policy in Canada” in Joanna Erdman, Erin Nelson, & Vanessa Gruben, eds., Canadian Health Law and Policy 5th Edition (Toronto: LexisNexis Canada, 2017) 19: 453-477. 
  • Gina Bravo, Claudie RodrigueMarcel ArcandJocelyn DownieMarie-France DuboisSharon KaasalainenCees M. HertoghSophie Pautex, & Lieve Van den Block, “Nurses’ Perspectives on Whether Medical Aid in Dying Should Be Accessible to Incompetent Patients with Dementia: Findings from a survey conducted in Quebec, Canada” (2017)Geriatric Nursing. Epub 2018 Jan 3.
  • Gina BravoClaudie RodrigueMarcel ArcandJocelyn DownieMarie-France DuboisSharon KaasalainenCees M. HertoghSophie Pautex, & Lieve Van den Block, “Are Informal Caregivers of Persons with Dementia open to Extending Medical Aid in Dying to Incompetent Patients? Findings from a survey conducted in Quebec, Canada” (2017) Alzheimer Disease & Associated Disorders. Epub 2017 Dec 27.
  • Gina Bravo, Claudie Rodrigue, Vincent Thériault, Marcel Arcand, Jocelyn Downie, Marie-France Dubois, Sharon Kaasalainen, Cees M Hertogh, Sophie Pautex, & Lieve Van den Block, “Should Medical Assistance in Dying Be Extended to Incompetent Patients With Dementia? Research Protocol of a Survey Among Four Groups of Stakeholders From Quebec, Canada” (2017) 13:6(11) Research Protocols:e208. Epub 2017 Nov 13.
  • Jocelyn Downie & Francoise Baylis, “A Test for Freedom of Conscience under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms: Regulating and Litigating Conscientious Refusals in Health Care” (2017) 11:1 McGill Journal of Law & Health S1.
  •  Matthew Lowe & Jocelyn Downie, “Does Legalization of Medical Assistance in Dying Affect Rates of Non-Assisted Suicide?” (25 May 2017) Open Volume 10 Journal of Ethics in Mental Health 1-9.
  •  Jocelyn Downie & Justine Dembo, “Medical Assistance in Dying and Mental Illness under the New Canadian law” (18 November 2016) Open Volume 10 Journal of Ethics in Mental Health 1-9.
  •  Jocelyn Downie, Lindy Willmott, & Ben White, “Next Up: A Proposal for Values-Based Law Reform on Unilateral With-Holdings and Withdrawal of Potentially Life-Sustaining Treatment” (2016) 54:3 Alberta Law Review 803-829.
  • Jocelyn Downie, “‘And Miles to Go Before I Sleep’: The Future of End of Life Law and Policy in Canada” (2016) 39:2 Dalhousie Law Journal 413-430.
  • Jocelyn Downie, “Permitting Voluntary Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: Law Reform Pathways for Common Law Jurisdictions” (2016) 16:1 QUT Law Review 84-112.
  • Jocelyn Downie & Kacie Oliver, “Medical Certificates of Death: First Principles and Established Practice Provide Answers to New Questions” (2016) 188:1 Canadian Medical Association Journal 49-52.

Service & activity

  • Member, Canada Council of Academies Expert Panel on Medical Assistance in Dying (2017-present)
  • Member, Provincial Territorial Expert Advisory Group on Physician-Assisted Dying (2015)    
  • Member, Board of Directors, Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (2014–present)
  • Member, Board of Directors, Surdna Foundation, (2007–present); Chair (2013–present)
  • Member, End of Life Experts Panel, Royal Society of Canada (2009–2011)