We provide ethics review and support services within Public Health Ontario (PHO) and to Ontario’s public health units (PHUs) across the life-cycle of evidence-generating projects that involve human participants, their data, or their biological materials. Projects may include research, evaluation, enhanced surveillance and quality improvement.
Ethics Review and Oversight Services
Capacity Building and Support Services
This 20-item, self-scoring questionnaire facilitates risk assessment for public health evidence-generating initiatives.
This report provides a framework to guide the ethical review of evidence-generating public health initiatives.
The TCPS 2 is the official research ethics policy of Canada’s three federal research agencies: the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).
PHUs must have an existing board of record agreement (BOR) with PHO before accessing ethics review services. If your PHU does not have a BOR agreement with us contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Multi-jurisdictional PHU Projects
A multi-jurisdictional project involving more than one PHU may be eligible to use PHO as a single, centralized ethics review board. For more information, please see PHO's Centralized Ethics Review FAQs or contact email@example.com for assistance.
PHO’s approach to ethics review applies to research as well other types of evidence-generating projects involving humans (e.g., evaluation, quality improvement and enhanced surveillance). Applicants should refer to their existing internal policies and procedures to determine whether a project is an evidence-generating activity that warrants ethics review. Contact your PHU’s ethics designate for additional information.
Completion of TCPS 2: CORE (Course on Research Ethics) online tutorial is mandatory for the lead applicant. This document is not required if it has previously been submitted to PHO Ethics Services. The online tutorial is an introduction to the 2nd edition of the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS 2) and provides fundamental guidance on the ethics of research involving human participants.
A completed RST questionnaire is required for all project submissions to assess the appropriate level of ethics review. PHO’s Ethics Services will validate the RST score and determine the final level of review.
Our ethics review service applies to projects with a validated RST score of 2 (delegated review) or 3 (full board review). For low risk projects, Levels 0 and 1, we provide consultation services to support capacity development in the review and assessment of ethical risks. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to book a consultation.
For more information on how to complete the RST questionnaire, please refer to the Risk Screening Tool Guidelines and FAQs or contact your PHU’s ethics designate.
PHO’s ERB Application Form is the key source of information used by the Board to assess the ethical acceptability of a project. The form was developed in consultation with PHUs to ensure local applicability.
If you require assistance completing your ERB application and supporting material, contact your PHU’s ethics designate.
The following documents must be included in your application:
Scan and email your completed applications to email@example.com
If you require assistance preparing your application, contact your PHU’s ethics designate.
PHO’s Ethics Services will validate the RST score and determine the final level of review. Projects with level 2 or 3 RST scores will be considered for review.
For low risk projects, Levels 1 and 0, we provide consultation services to support capacity development in the review and assessment of ethical risks. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to book a consultation.
Applications will not be accepted for review until all relevant information is provided. To ensure the clarity and completeness of a submission, our Ethics Services will pre-screen each submission. Applicants may be asked to re-submit their application if relevant material is missing or if information in the ERB application form is incomplete.
For more information about submission deadlines, please go to Submission Deadlines and ERB Meetings.
Ethics Services will send the lead applicant an email acknowledging the successful submission of their application. If you have any questions contact email@example.com.
Projects approved by our Ethics Review Board are subject to continuing ethics review throughout the life-cycle of the project. Continuing review may involve project renewals, review and approval of changes to the originally approved application, and project completion or termination.
For additional information refer to the Forms, Guidelines and Tools section
The ethics review process begins once a project is successfully submitted. Ethics Services will send the lead applicant an email acknowledging the successful submission of their application. For information on submission deadlines, refer to the level of review below.
Level 2 delegated review applies to minimal risk projects and is conducted by one or two members of the ERB. There is no deadline for submitting a level 2 delegated review project.
Level 3 full board review applies to projects with greater than minimal risk and is completed at a scheduled ERB meeting.
The deadline for submission is four weeks prior to the full board meeting date. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Use the following forms and guidelines to submit an application or make changes to an existing project
Our Ethics Services team provides:
The TCPS 2 CORE on-line tutorial introduces researchers to TCPS2 and focuses on the guidance that is applicable to all research regardless of discipline or methodology.
For more information contact email@example.com or search PHO’s event calendar for listings
TCPS2 (Tri-Council Policy Statement 2, Ethical Conduct of Research Involving Humans)
The TCPS 2 Tutorial Course on Research Ethics (CORE)
A risk screening tool for ethical appraisal of evidence-generating initiatives
What makes public health studies ethical? Dissolving the boundary between research and practice
Population and Public Health Ethics: cases from research, policy and practice
The First Nations Principle of OCAP
The Belmont Report: Ethical Principles and Guidelines for the Protection of Human Subjects of Research
The Common Rule: United States Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects of Research
International Ethical Guidelines for Health Related Research Involving Humans
WHO Guidelines on Ethical Issues in Public Health Surveillance