Public Health Law

“Public Health” is concerned with the health of the community and focuses on three main areas:

  • prevention and health protection: to prevent conditions that could cause risk to the health of the community,
  • screening: to identify health problems in order to respond, and,
  • health promotion: to encourage health in individuals and the community.

In Ontario, Public Health is organized into 36 separate regions, each with their own Public Health Unit (link to list on Ontario government website).

Public Health in your community is generally the responsibility of your local Public Health Unit.  However, the Government of Canada is also involved with Public Health issues.

Public Health is concerned with HIV/AIDS in all three areas of community health:

  • to prevent people from becoming infected with HIV
  • to screen to identify people who are infected and to ensure that they receive the supports that they need (please see our HIV Testing page for more information)
  • to promote healthy attitudes and behaviours.

Public Health Units are legally responsible for protecting public health by trying to prevent the transmission of various infections, including HIV.

Public Health counsels people about sexual health, safer sex, and HIV and STI prevention.

Public Health staff have the legal power to issue an Order if they believe that there is a risk someone will pass on HIV or another STI to someone; and that the Order is necessary to decrease or eliminate that risk. The Order will usually tell the person what they must and must not do. If you get a Public Health Order and you want to fight it, you only have 15 days to file an appeal, so you should contact us right away for legal advice.

HIV disclosure: A legal guide for gay men in Canada / Dévoilement du VIH: guide d’information sur le droit pour les hommes gais en Canada

Our updated HIV disclosure:  a legal guide for gay men in Canada is now available (2013 May).  The guide is also available in French: Dévoilement du VIH : guide d’information sur le droit pour les hommes gais au Canada (2013 mai).

The updated guide includes important new legal information about the criminal law and HIV non-disclosure that resulted from the Supreme Court of Canada decisions in 2012.

The guide, written for gay men living with HIV, offers information about HIV disclosure and Canadian criminal law. It also has information about disclosure and other areas of the law, such as public health, privacy, employment, travel and immigration. The guide provides resources and contacts for more information.

The guide is available in print and to download as a pdf.  You can download the guide as a pdf (on our website):

You can order print copies of the guide from CATIE:

Getting Legal Help

If you are living with HIV in Ontario, please contact us for free legal advice.

If you are living in Ontario but you are not living with HIV, you can contact the Law Society Referral Service (LSRS) of the Law Society of Upper Canada.  The LSRS is an on-line service that provides a referral to a lawyer or paralegal for an in-person or phone consultation of up to 30 minutes at no charge: www.lsuc.on.ca/lsrs. The LSRS crisis telephone for people in custody, in crisis, in a shelter or in a remote community without internet access is 416-947-5255 or toll-free 1-855-947-5255, Monday to Friday 9 am to 5 pm. For more information please see the Law Society Referral Service information on the Law Society of Upper Canada website: www.lsuc.on.ca/lsrs/.