Fall 2019 - HSCI 407 D100

International Trade Agreements and Health Policy (3)

Class Number: 2625

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 3 – Dec 2, 2019: Mon, 9:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 4, 2019
    Wed, 3:30–6:30 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    John Calvert
    1 778 782-8163
  • Prerequisites:

    at least 60 units in health sciences including HSCI 130, 305 and at least one other upper division HSCI course.



A review of the impact of international trade agreements in shaping health policy in Canada as well as in other developed and developing countries. The impact of trade obligations in key health policy areas, including: the provision of health services, health insurance, intellectual property, pharmaceutical policy, bio-technology, the accreditation of health professionals and the ability of governments to regulate developments in the health care sector.


Recent conflicts with the US and Mexico over the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have highlighted the impact of trade agreements on Canada's economy and society. While almost all the media coverage has dealt with tariffs on automobiles, steel and other goods, as well as Canada's supply management system for agriculture, these agreements also have significant implications for health policy and health care systems. Starting with the establishment of the 1947 General Agreement on Tariff and Trade (GATT), this course will examine the evolution of trade agreements from treaties originally designed to lower tariffs on goods to agreements that now focus primarily on shaping the public policy decisions of governments. It will critically assess the neoliberal philosophical assumptions underlying current trade liberalization initiatives, including NAFTA, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) and other regional and bilateral trade and investment agreements. It will examine how these agreements now impact drug prices, health insurance, environmental policy, accreditation of health professionals, medical services and other health-related public policy areas. By the end of the course, students will have a solid understanding of the cumulative impact of trade and investment agreements on population health in Canada and internationally.


On completion of the course, students will be able to:
1. Critically analyze the philosophical underpinnings of the push to liberalize international trade
2. Explain how international trade agreements are negotiated and enforced
3. Describe the history and evolution of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)
4. Analyze the key provisions of NAFTA and evaluate its impact on Canada's health care system
5. Describe the structure and organization of the World Trade Organization (WTO)
6. Assess the impact of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) on Canada and globally
7. Evaluate the impact of the TRIPS Agreement on access to medicines in Canada and globally
8. Understand how trade agreements support the implementation of neoliberal policies and limit public policy options of governments


  • Mid Term Exam 20%
  • Final Exam 30%
  • Term Paper 25%
  • Small Group Assignmets and Presentations 20%
  • Class Attendance and Participation 5%


The format of the seminar course will be a combination of instructor lectures, group presentations, class discussions and guest speakers. Students should expect to work in small groups to prepare presentations to the class.

This class is cross-listed with HSCI 891.


As noted above. The course is targetted particularly at 4th year undergraduates interested in global health and the impacts of trade liberalization on health policy and health care services



There is no text book. The course will utilze a collection of readings selected from peer reviewed journals available through SFU's library system as well as government documents and grey literature from business and advocacy organizations. Where available videos will be posted on CANVAS for class discussion.


The required readings will be set out in the week by week detailed course outline which will be handed out on the first day of class and posted on Canvas. There is no assigned textbook


As per detailed week by week detailed course outline which will be handed out on the first day of class and posted on Canvas

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html