Public Health Ontario's Ethics Review Board (ERB) plays a vital role in helping to ensure that research and other initiatives conducted by PHO are carried out in a manner that is consistent with the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans, Second edition (TCPS 2) [PDF] as well as other relevant regulations, policies and guidelines. The ERB is responsible for complete and timely independent ethics review of PHO initiatives, and has the authority to approve, reject, propose modifications or halt any initiatives that are not ethically acceptable.
PHO applies an integrated approach for ethics review, where all evidence-generating initiatives receive ethical scrutiny, proportionate to level of risk (as outlined in the Framework to guide ethics review for public health initiatives [PDF].) The scope of the ERB includes research, evaluation, surveillance and quality improvement projects that involve human participants, their data, or biological materials. The ERB also participates in the development of best practices for addressing emerging ethical issues in the conduct of public health initiatives across the province. The ERB was established as the Board of Record for PHO in February 2013.
Membership in the PHO ERB complies with the provisions of TCPS 2 with regard to expert representation and Research Ethics Board composition. The ERB members are selected from PHO, public health units and academic institutions across Ontario. Members have expertise in a broad range of public health disciplines and methodologies, law and ethics, and include community representatives.