Fall 2019 - HSCI 891 G100

Special Topics in Health Sciences (3)

International Trade Agreements and Health Poli

Class Number: 8041

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

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

  • Instructor:

    John Calvert
    1 778 782-8163



Special topics in areas not currently covered within the graduate program offerings.


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 Tariffs and Trade (GATT), this couse 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 aborted Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, 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 TRIPS Agreement on access to medicines in Canada and globally
7. Analyze the impact of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) in Canada and globally.
8. Understand how trade agreements support the implementation of neoliberal policies and constrain the public policy options of governments


  • Mid term exam 20%
  • Final exam 30%
  • Term Paper 25%
  • Group Work and class participation 25%


The format of this 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 for the class. While this is a 'slash' course that will also include some 4th year undergraduates, there will be special, additional arrangements to ensure that the needs and interests of graduate students are met.


There are no course requirements for graduate students to take HSCI 891. However, the course will be particularly relevant to graduate students with an interest in global health, domestic and international health care systems, economics and social policy.



The readings will be from peer reviewed journals, government documents and some grey literature produced by NGOs. There is no required text book. Most readigns will be posted on Canvas. There will also be a number of videos and documentaries on trade issues for the class to view and discuss.


The detailed course outline will include a week-by-week list of journal articles and government documents, including the texts of various trade agreements. There is no core textbook, but rather each week of the course will draw upon readings that are specific to the themes it covers. Students will also be required to view a number of videos dealing with specific trade agreements.


See detailed course outline to be distributed at the first class and posted on Canvas

Graduate Studies Notes:

Important dates and deadlines for graduate students are found here: http://www.sfu.ca/dean-gradstudies/current/important_dates/guidelines.html. The deadline to drop a course with a 100% refund is the end of week 2. The deadline to drop with no notation on your transcript is the end of week 3.

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