William Lahey

Professor of Law


Related information

Email: william.lahey@dal.ca
Phone: 902-494-4500
Mailing Address: 
Room 424, Weldon Law Building, 6061 University Avenue
PO Box 15000 Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4R2
Research Topics:
  • Health law and policy
  • Health law
  • Health care regulation
  • Health care policy
  • Environmental regulation
  • Environmental law
  • Energy law
  • Law
  • Administrative law
  • Constitutional law


  • BA (Mount Alison)
  • BA (Juris) (Oxford) (Rhodes Scholar)
  • Certificate of Foreign Accreditation (Toronto)
  • LLM (Toronto)


William Lahey joined the faculty in 2001.  He clerked for Mr. Justice La Forest of the Supreme Court of Canada in 1989-90 and then practiced with the Halifax firm of McInnes, Cooper & Robertson and later with the NS Department of Justice as solicitor to the Department of Labour. He then held senior administrative positions in the NS Department of Human Resources and the NS Department of Health.  In both positions he worked extensively in public sector collective bargaining and health system restructuring.  From 2004 to 2007 he was Deputy Minister of Nova Scotia’s Department of Environment and Labour, on leave from Dalhousie Law School.  

Through his roles in public administration, Professor Lahey has contributed to legislative reform in many fields of Nova Scotia law including: workers’ compensation and occupational health and safety; labour relations and employment standards; health care governance and administration, professional regulation, public health and safety; environmental protection and sustainable development; and energy and natural resources law. He has also advised on or directed the administration of legislation in many of these as well as in other fields of law.

Professor Lahey’s research and continuing work in public policy deal broadly with questions about law’s role in regulating the work of public administration and as an instrument of public administration in multiple fields of public policy, including health, professional conduct, environment, energy and natural resources.  It builds on his collaborations with colleagues in multiple disciplines, including law, health policy and services research, nursing, medicine, health administration, ethics, economics, political science, and sustainability research.    

Professor Lahey is cross-appointed to the School of Health Administration in the Faculty of Health Professions at Dalhousie University.  He is Chair of the Board of Directors of Efficiency Nova Scotia, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation and a member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Public Affairs.  He leads the organizing committee for the Dialogues on Faith and Public Policy of the Segelberg Trust.


Professor Lahey also contributes to teaching in the Faculty of Health Professions, the Faculty of Medicine and Dalhousie’s College of Sustainability. In the NSERC CREATE Training Program in Human and Ecological Risk Assessment, he teaches an intensive course on regulatory law and risk at the Toxicology Centre at the University of Saskatchewan for doctoral students from Dalhousie, Guelph, Saskatchewan and Northern British Columbia.

Selected awards & honours

  • 2003-04 Recipient of the Dalhousie Law Students’ Society and Alumni Excellence in Teaching Award
  • 2007-2008 Recipient of the Hannah and Harold Barnett Award for Teaching First Year Law
  • 2008 Recipient of Novaknowledge Award for contributions to the development of the knowledge economy in Nova Scotia

Selected publications

  • William Lahey, “Legislating Interprofessional Regulatory Collaboration in Nova Scotia” (2013) 1:1 Health Reform Observer – Observatoire des Réformes de Santé Article 4.
  • William Lahey, “The Legal Framework for Intergovernmental Health Care Governance: Making the Most of Limited Options” in Katherine Fierlbeck & William Lahey, eds, Health Care Federalism in Canada: Critical Junctures and Critical Perspectives (Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2013) 71.
  • William Lahey, “Combining the Knowledge of Federalism Researchers, Health Care Researchers, and Policy Practitioners to Understand and Improve Canadian Health Care Federalism” in Katherine Fierlbeck & William Lahey, eds, Health Care Federalism in Canada: Critical Junctures and Critical Perspectives (Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2013) 192.
  • William Lahey, “Gerard V. La Forest and the Uncertain Greening of Canadian Public Law” (2013) 54 Can Bus LJ 223.
  • William Lahey & Meinhard Doelle, “Negotiating the Interface of Environmental and Economic Governance: Nova Scotia’s Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act” (2012) 35(1) Dal LJ 1.
  • William Lahey, “Interprofessionalism and collaborative self-regulation in the health professions: two variations on an emerging Canadian theme” in Stephanie D. Short & Fiona McDonald, eds, Health Workforce Governance: Improved Access, Good Regulatory Practice, Safer Patients (Surrey: Ashgate Publishing, 2012) 113.
  • William Lahey, “Medicare and the Law: Contours of an Evolving Relationship” in Jocelyn Downie, Timothy Caulfield & Colleen Flood, eds, Canadian Health Law and Policy, 4th ed (Toronto: LexisNexis, 2011) 1.
  • William Lahey, “New Governance Regulation and Managerial Accountability for Performance in Canada’s Health Care Systems” in Robert P. Kouri & Catherine Régis, eds, Grand Challenges in Health Law and Policy (Cowansville: Éditions Yvon Blais, 2010) 243.
  • William Lahey & Robert Currie, “Regulatory and Medico-legal Barriers to Interprofessional Practice” (2005) 19 Journal of Interprofessional Care 197.

Service & activity

  • Deputy Minister, NS Department of Environment and Labour 2004-07
  • Director, Health Law Institute 2007-11
  • Founding Chair of the Board of Directors, Efficiency Nova Scotia Corporation, from 2010 
  • Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation, 2011-14
  • Advisor to the NS Regulated Health Professions Network and the NS Dept. of Health on regulatory collaboration in the health professions, including on the design of the Nova Scotia Regulated Health Professions Network Act, 2008-2012
  • Advisor (with Professor Peter Duinker) to the Forest Products Association of Nova Scotia on regulation of the forestry industry, 2009-2012
  • Member (with Sister Elizabeth Davis R.S.M. and Dr. Philip Hébert) of the Working Group formed by the Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons and the Alberta Medical Association to assist the Health Law Institute of the Faculty of Law of the University of Alberta with recommendations on policy and administrative processes relating to physicians with health conditions, 2011-2012
  • Advisor to the national bodies of Canada’s regulators of the accounting profession on self-regulation and the proposed unification of the profession under a common regulatory body, 2012
  • Expert witness, Health Services Preferential Access Inquiry of Alberta, 2012
  • Reviewer (with Mr. Justice La Forest) of the Involuntary Psychiatric Treatment Act for the NS Dept. of Health, 2012-13
  • Member (with Professor Meinhard Doelle) of the Independent Panel on the Regulation of Aquaculture appointed to advise the NS Dept. of Fisheries and Aquaculture on a new regulatory framework for the aquaculture industry, 2013-14