Terms of Reference – Standing Committee on Ethics (SCE)

Authority

CIHR By-Law No. 1 – Article 5, sections 5.04 and 5.05.

Chair

The Standing Committee on Ethics (SCE) will be chaired by a member of Governing Council.

Vice-Chair

The Vice-Chair will be a Canadian ethics expert selected by the Committee.

Voting Members

The Committee consists of at least 9 voting members, including the Chair, two CIHR Scientific Directors, and up to five Canadian ethics experts (including the Vice-Chair and at least one Indigenous representative), appointed by Governing Council after receiving advice from its Nominating and Governance Committee, based on nomination profiles and gaps analysis. Other voting members may be appointed to fill identified gaps in expertise, diversity and inclusivity, e.g., senior international ethics expertise, public/patient representation, industry, health journal editor. The SCE will have a maximum of 12 voting members.

Non-voting, ex-officio Members:

  • President of CIHR
  • Vice President Research, Knowledge Translation and Ethics (VPRKTE)
  • Chief Financial Officer/Vice President Resource Planning and Management
  • Director General of Science, Policy
  • Executive Director of the Secretariat on Responsible Conduct of Research
  • Manager, Ethics Office

Observer

Student Representative

Role of the Chair

The Chair will manage and provide leadership to the Committee and act as a direct liaison between the Committee and the Governing Council. The Chair will interact with the Vice-Chair and the Manager of the Ethics Office to establish the agenda of Committee meetings; the VPRKTE will then receive the draft agenda for review and comment.

Role of the Vice-Chair

The Vice-Chair will act as Chair in the absence of the Chair, and will interact with the Chair and the Manager of the Ethics Office to establish the agenda of Committee meetings; the VPRKTE will then receive the draft agenda for review and comment.

Responsibilities of Members

SCE members are expected to:

  • Attend face-to-face meetings and participate in teleconference calls except under exceptional circumstances.
  • Provide leadership and participate in Task Forces, Working Groups, and Subcommittees (see SCE Operational Processes).

Membership Term

Members will be appointed to serve an initial term of three years, and may be re appointed to a second term of one, two, or three years. This will ensure, as far as possible, the expiry in any one-year of the terms of office of not more than one third of the members. Members can be appointed for no more than two consecutive terms.

Meeting Frequency

The Committee will meet in person up to three times per year. Meetings may be held by teleconference at the call of the Chair.

Quorum

Quorum is a majority of voting members.

Reference

Bourinot’s Rules of Order, 4th Edition.

Mandate

The SCE identifies for the Governing Council emerging ethical issues of strategic relevance with respect to health and health research. It provides the Governing Council with high-level strategic advice on the ethical, legal and socio-cultural dimensions of CIHR's mandate as set out in the CIHR Act, at the request of the President, Governing Council, or members of Science Council. Therefore, major roles and responsibilities are to:

  • Respond to requests for advice on ethical issues brought to the SCE by the CIHR President, Governing Council, and members of Science Council.
  • Identify emerging ethical issues of strategic importance within CIHR’s mandate for Governing Council’s consideration, and set forth guidance for Governing Council if so requested.
  • Provide advice to refine, deliver, and evaluate the impact of CIHR’s Ethics Action Plan on an ongoing basis.
  • Exchange information with the Secretariat on Responsible Conduct of Research.

The Standing Committee on Ethics is not responsible for providing advice with respect to CIHR policies that concern the behaviour of employees, such as the Code of Conduct, Conflict of Interest Policy, and Disclosures of Wrongdoing, which are aligned with the federal Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector and related legislation; and CIHR’s Financial Management Framework, which is aligned with the Financial Administration Act and Treasury Board policies.

Reporting Function

  • Direct reporting to Governing Council through the Chair at each meeting of the Governing Council.
  • Verbal debrief at Science Council via the Vice-President, RKTE with meeting minutes and other outputs of the SCE to be distributed to Science Council.

Evaluation

The SCE will review these terms of reference every two years and suggest changes, if needed, for the Governance and Nominating Committee’s consideration.

Approval

Approved by Governing Council on November 18, 2014
Last revised by Governing Council on November 15, 2017
Last revised and approved by Governing Council on June 20, 2018.

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