Equity and Vulnerabilities II: What We Can Learn from a COVID-19 Spring

Sponsored by University of Ottawa Press

Recorded on 12/28/2020
Posted in The Authority File

Episode 173

Against all odds, we’ve made it to the end of 2020. Moving into the new year, we need to make sure our pandemic solutions (raised wages, rent moratoriums, etc.) aren’t short term. How do we reshape our public health structures to address longstanding inequities?

This week is our final episode with the editors of Vulnerable: The Law, Policy and Ethics of COVID-19. Three of its editors, Jane Philpott, Sophie Thériault, and Sridhar Venkatapuram, discuss the inequities and vulnerabilities further revealed by the pandemic. Each takes a unique look at what steps Canada (and other countries) need to take to prevent a crisis like this from happening again.

In our final episode, Jane explains how we need to support our frontline workers—not only hospital staff, but those in retail, grocery, food service, and more—moving forward. Sridhar addresses the global approach we must to take to public health, instead of the highly individualistic perspective that nations like the US hold. Finally, Sophie and Sridhar tackle the big questions together: how does the way a government allocates its resources reflect its own structural inequities; and how can we ensure our leaders enact policies that help everyone, not just the “standard citizen”?


About the guests:

Jane Philpott
Professor of Family Medicine, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, and Director of the School of Medicine
Queen’s University

The Honourable Jane Philpott is Professor of Family Medicine, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, and Director of the School of Medicine at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. She is a medical doctor, educator, and former Member of Parliament, and received her Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Western Ontario. She completed a Family Medicine residency at the University of Ottawa, then both a Tropical Medicine fellowship and a Master of Public Health from the University of Toronto.

Dr. Philpott spent the first decade of her medical career in Niger, West Africa. In 1998, she moved to Stouffville, Ontario, where she served as a family physician for 17 years. She was Chief of Family Medicine at Markham Stouffville Hospital and an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto. In 2015, Dr. Philpott was elected as the Member of Parliament for Markham-Stouffville. She served in numerous federal cabinet positions from 2015 to 2019, including Minister of Health, Minister of Indigenous Services, President of the Treasury Board, and Minister of Digital Government. Her research interests include medical education, primary care, and the Indigenous health workforce.


Sophie Thériault
Full Professor and Vice-Dean in the Faculty of Law
University of Ottawa

Sophie Thériault is Full Professor and Vice-Dean (Academic) in the Faculty of Law (Civil Law Section) at the University of Ottawa. From 2015 to 2017, she served as the Vice-Dean of Graduate Studies in Law at the University of Ottawa. Professor Thériault’s research focuses on Indigenous Peoples’ rights in the context of natural resources extraction; Indigenous environmental governance; environmental justice and environmental rights; and food security and sovereignty for Indigenous Peoples. Her work examines the myriad ways in which state law dispossesses, subjugates, and marginalizes Indigenous Peoples, especially in relation to the extraction of natural resources from their traditional lands. It also focuses on the role of law in creating, reproducing, and potentially remediating environmental Biographies 603 injustices for Indigenous Peoples and other marginalized groups. Professor Thériault is a member of the Executive Committee of the Alumni Network of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation and of the Global Young Academy.


Sridhar Venkatapuram
Associate Professor
King’s College London

Sridhar Venkatapuram is an academic practitioner in global health ethics and justice. He is Associate Professor at King’s College London, and Director of Global Health Education and Training at the King’s Global Health Institute. His interdisciplinary training includes international relations (Brown), history (SOAS), global public health (Harvard), sociology, and political philosophy (Cambridge). He has worked with organizations including Human Rights Watch, Doctors of the World, the Population Council, Open Societies Institute, Welcome Trust, Health Foundation, U.K. Parliament of Science & Technology, and recently, the World Health Organization. He is a member of the Independent Panel on Global Governance for Health, a trustee of Medact, and a fellow of the Salzburg Global Seminar, Human Development & Capabilities Association, the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce), and U.K. Faculty of Public Health, among others.

His PhD was an argument for every human being’s moral right to health, examined and passed without corrections by Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen. It was the basis of his first book, titled Health Justice: An Argument From the Capability Approach (Polity Press). He publishes in diverse scholarly journals on public and global health ethics, social determinants of health, the capabilities approach, health equity, and global governance for health. His Twitter handle is @sridhartweet.


Enjoy the episode? Check out the others in the series: