Ethics Review Services

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.

What we do

Ethics Review and Oversight Services

  • TCPS 2-compliant delegated or full board ethics review of  evidence-generating public health projects
  • a single, centralized ethics review board for projects involving multiple PHUs

Capacity Building and Support Services

  • ethics consultations on project-related issues 
  • a forum for PHUs to share and learn from each other
  • support to develop capacity in the assessment of ethical risks and review of low risk projects
  • ongoing education and training

Submit an Ethics Review Board Application

 

How to prepare and submit a new ethics review board application

1. Confirm that your public health unit (PHU) has a board of record agreement with Public Health Ontario (PHO)

PHUs must have a board of record agreement (BOR) with PHO before accessing ethics review services.

If your PHU does not have a BOR agreement with us contact ethics@oahpp.ca.

Multi-site PHU Projects

A multi-site/multi-jurisdictional project involving more than one PHU may be eligible to use PHO as a single, centralized ethics review board. For more information, see PHO's Centralized Ethics Review Process FAQs or contact ethics@oahpp.ca

2. Determine whether your project is an evidence-generating activity involving humans, their information or biological materials

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 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. 

3. Complete the TCPS 2 CORE on-line tutorial

Completion of the TCPS 2: CORE (Course on Research Ethics) online tutorial is mandatory for the lead applicant. Submission of the CORE completion certificate 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.  

4. Complete the Risk Screening Tool (RST) Questionnaire 

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 ethics@oahpp.ca to book a consultation. 

5. Complete  the ERB application form 

PHO’s ERB Application Form is the key source of information used by the Board to assess the ethical acceptability of a project.

If you require assistance completing your ERB application and supporting material, contact your PHU’s ethics designate.

6. Submit your application

The following documents must be included in your application:

  • completed Risk Screening Tool questionnaire
  • completed Ethics Review Board Application form
  • additional supporting material, such as consent forms, questionnaires, recruitment material, data collection tools, privacy assessments, etc. For assistance with consent forms, please refer to PHO’s ERB Consent Form Guidelines and ERB Information Letter and Consent Form Template.

Scan and email your completed applications to ethics@oahpp.ca.

If you require assistance preparing your application, contact your PHU’s ethics designate. 

What happens after an application is submitted?

RST score validation

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 ethics@oahpp.ca to book a consultation.

Pre-screening of application package

Applications will not be accepted for review until all relevant information is provided. Ethics Services will pre-screen each submission. Applicants may be asked to re-submit their application if relevant material is missing or incomplete.

For more information about submission deadlines, please go to Submission Deadlines and ERB Meetings.

Confirmation of successful submission

Ethics Services will send the lead applicant an email acknowledging the successful submission of their application.  If you have any questions contact ethics@oahpp.ca.

Continuing Review

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. 

To access continuing review forms, refer to the Forms, Guidelines and Tools section

Form
Description
For projects lasting more than one year, lead applicants are required to submit an annual report using the ERB Renewal Form. Ethics Services will send the lead applicant a reminder email two months prior to the approval expiration date.
To be used when there are substantive changes to the protocol. If in doubt whether an amendment form is necessary, please contact your ethics designate.
To be used when there are unanticipated issues or events involving participants or that may affect participants’ welfare. This includes unexpected negative consequences of participation (e.g. mental or physical health events), occurrences that might have implications for participants (e.g. confidentiality breach), or unexpected deviations from the approved protocol.
To be used when adding or removing a project team member
To be used when completing or terminating a project

Submission deadlines and Ethics Review Board meetings

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

Level 2 delegated review applies to minimal risk projects and is conducted by two members of the ERB. There is no deadline for submitting a level 2 delegated review project.

Level 3 Full Board Review

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 ethics@oahpp.ca.

Due Date for Submission of Completed, Fully Signed ERB Application
(four weeks prior to ERB meeting date)

ERB Full Board Meeting Dates
(meetings are scheduled every second Thursday of each month)

November 14, 2019

December 12, 2019

December 12, 2019

January 9, 2020

January 16, 2020

February 13, 2020

February 13, 2020

March 12, 2020

March 12, 2020

April 9, 2020

April 16, 2020

May 14, 2020

May 14, 2020

June 11, 2020

June 11, 2020

July 9, 2020

July 16, 2020

August 13, 2020

August 13, 2020

September 10, 2020

September 10, 2020

October 8, 2020

October 15, 2020 November 12, 2020
November 12, 2020 December 10, 2020 

Our Ethics Services team provides:

  • training on using the Risk Screening Tool 
  • ethics designate forums 
  • education on emerging ethics topics 

The TCPS 2 CORE on-line tutorial is an introduction to the 2nd edition of the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS2) and provides fundamental guidance on the ethics of research involving human participants.

For more information contact ethics@oahpp.ca or search PHO’s event calendar for listings.

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Contact Ethics

ethics@oahpp.ca

Updated 19 Aug 2019