Terms of Reference
Ethics Committee


The Ethics Committee (EthC) reports to Council. The purpose of the committee is to advise on ethics and equity issues related to medical education, research, clinical practice, corporate issues, public policy and other matters pertinent to specialty medicine.

Responsibility and Authority

The EthC supports Council by:

  • advising as appropriate on issues related to the CMA’s medical code of ethics adopted by the Royal College;
  • reviewing Royal College policies and programs (existing or in development) with an ethical lens to ensure consistency with Royal College principles and values;
  • responds to requests by Council, the Executive Committee of Council (ECC) and others as appropriate, and collaborates when necessary with relevant organizations on ethics and equity issues;
  • as needed, identifying, reviewing and bringing forward issues of ethical importance deserving the attention of Council and the ECC;
  • sustaining and enhancing the Bioethics Curriculum and other bioethics educational resources, as appropriate; and
  • adjudicating submissions for the KJR Wightman Award for Scholarship in Ethics and the Royal College Excellence in Ethics Education Award;
  • advance residents’ and Fellows’ ethics education


The EthC has eight (8) voting members including the Chair. The members, who ideally include at least one Royal College Councillor, are predominantly Fellows but include individuals with expertise in philosophy and health law. In addition, a representative from the Canadian Medical Association’s (CMA) Ethics Committee, a representative from a National Specialty Society, and a representative from College of Family Physicians of Canada’s (CFPC) Ethics Committee, will be invited to attend regularly as non-voting members.

Individuals from other organizations, such as the Collège des médecins du Québec, and the and the Resident Doctors of Canada (RDoC) may be invited to attend meetings as guests when appropriate, and as such shall not be counted for the purposes of establishing quorum.

Key Competencies and Characteristics

Committee members should have either formal training and/or experience related to ethics, and possess the ability to review, revise, and edit written materials.

Committee members should possess the ability and willingness to meet the strategic directions of the Royal College and the willingness to participate effectively in committee meetings.

Term of Office

The usual term of office of the chair is two years, renewable once (maximum four years). The usual term of office of members is two years, renewable twice (maximum six years). All terms shall begin and end at the time of the Annual Meeting of the Members when vacancies need to be filled.


Meetings will be held twice per year. Meetings may be face-to-face or via webinar.

Quorum consists of a majority of the voting members of the committee (i.e., 50% plus one). The chair is counted as a voting member in constituting quorum. However as the presiding official of the committee, the chair does not move motions. Furthermore, the chair shall only vote when the vote is conducted by secret ballot. Every question shall be decided by a majority of the votes cast. In the event of a tie vote, the question shall be defeated. When a committee is called to make a decision outside of a meeting by e-ballot, the same rules apply.

Appointment to a Royal College committee carries significant responsibilities, and all committee members are expected to adhere to the Volunteer Code of Conduct. In addition, committee members are required to maintain absolute discretion and not divulge, re-produce, or release any confidential information except when authorized by the Royal College. Committee members are permitted to download a copy of committee materials for use solely for the purposes of the Committee. All downloaded materials must be deleted once used for the intended purpose.

TOR record

Most recent resolution: Resolution No. 2020/2021-12
Previous resolution(s): Resolution No. 2018/2019-10
Approved by: Council
Approval Date: July 3, 2020
Approval path: GC, Council
Effective date: July 3, 2020
Date of next review: Spring 2021
Royal College Office: ORHPA
Version status: Approved