Since the 1970s, the Committee on Ethics has supported the CMA and physicians in Canada with advice and recommendations on medical ethical and bioethical issues. According to its terms of reference, the Committee’s role is to:
Elaborate, interpret and recommend amendments to the Code of Ethics
Address problems related to ethics referred to the association
Advise on ethical matters arising from scientific and technological progress in the health sciences, and ethical issues of interest or concern to the medical profession
Advise on ethical issues related to the CMA’s core strategies and priorities
Maintain the confidentiality of documents and, where appropriate, committee deliberations
The Committee reports to General Council annually and to the CMA Board of Directors throughout the year. Meetings take place twice a year in person, and by teleconference as required.
Committee members and the chair are elected annually based on interest, experience, and expertise. Membership includes:
- Five members selected on a regional basis (British Columbia/Yukon, Prairie provinces/Northwest Territories, Ontario, Quebec, Atlantic provinces)
- One resident member elected by General Council
- One student member elected by General Council
- One board member appointed by and from within the Board of Directors
- A chair elected by General Council by recommendation of the Committee on Nominations
Fiza Javed (Canadian Federation of Medical Students)
Ms. Javed is a medical student at Queen's University, an entrepreneur and a CMA Ambassador. She is a racialized woman with over 10 years experience in advocacy, social justice and health equity. Ms. Javed has held leadership positions in numerous government, private, public health and not-for-profit organizations in the Quinte, Greater Toronto and Calgary areas.
Currently, she is an executive for the Municipal Day of Action, working alongside Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health, advocating for harm reduction and increased resources for people with mental health disorders.
She started volunteering at the age of 12 for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. She has held multiple advocacy roles including being a youth health ambassador for the local public health unit and a youth representative for the Community Development Council Strategic Planning, identifying housing and food insecurity concerns for vulnerable families. She was awarded the BMO Financial Group National Scholarship Award in 2013, which is based on academic merit, leadership and community service.
She has developed mental health and wellness teaching sessions for youth and virtual workshops for educators and health care workers in collaboration with social services agencies, Alberta Health Services and the Calgary Board of Education.
Dr. Adrienne Mayes (British Columbia/Yukon)
Dr. Adrienne Mayes has worked as a family physician-anesthetist in Whitehorse, Yukon since 2009. She served on the Yukon Medical Council for nine years. She is a rural preceptor for medical students and residents. Dr. Mayes is a committed lifelong learner and is grateful for all the thoughtful teaching her colleagues, peers and patients provide.
Dr. Barry Pakes (Chair)
Dr. Pakes is a public health and preventive medicine (PHPM) specialist, clinician, educator and researcher, with a special interest in public health and global health ethics.
He is the medical officer of health (MOH) of York Region as well as program director of the Public Health and Preventive Medicine Residency Program and global health academic lead at the University of Toronto. He has served in senior leadership positions including deputy chief MOH in Nunavut and associate MOH in several Ontario public health units. He is long-standing chair of the Continuing Professional Development Committee of Public Health Physicians of Canada and chair of the Jewish Medical Ethics continuing medical education series. He continues to work clinically in primary care and emergency medicine in Northern Ontario.
Dr. Pakes is a graduate of the PHPM Residency Program as well as the Family Medicine Residency Program at the University of Toronto. He has a PhD in public health ethics from the University of Toronto and was a senior ethics fellow at the World Health Organization. He also completed an MPH at the Harvard School of Public Health and tropical medicine training at the Gorgas Institute in Peru.
Dr. Gilles Donat Beauchamp (Quebec)
Dr. Beauchamp is chairman of the Department of Surgery at the University of Montreal, where he has worked as a thoracic surgeon since 1979, and has been teaching ethics since 1998. He is also involved in surgical education at the University of Montreal as director of the core program, and co-director of the thoracic surgery program at Laval University and University of Montreal. From 2007 to 2020, Dr. Beauchamp was responsible for the surgical externship at Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital. He completed medical school and residency in general surgery at the University of Montreal, and his specialty in thoracic surgery at the University of Montreal and the University of Toronto. He also has a specialized graduate diploma (DESS) in bioethics. Having worked as a leader in the Department of Surgery for many years, Dr. Beauchamp has an active interest in highlighting third-year medical student’s observations on clinical and professional ethics.
Dr. Olivia Lee (Resident Doctors of Canada)
Dr. Lee is a psychiatry resident at the University of Ottawa. In her life before medicine, she was a law student with research interests in health policy and ethics, including mental health law, genetic discrimination and neuroethics.
She completed her JD (Common Law) at the University of Ottawa before starting her residency and maintains a keen interest in understanding how ethical principles affect clinical practice. In 2019 she interned with Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP and in 2018 with Senator Kim Pate. During this internship, she worked on several files involving medical ethics, including Bill C-56 (segregation in prisons and mental health), Bill C-375 (requirement for mental health information in pre-sentencing reports) and Bill C-404 (issues of paid surrogacy).
Ms. Janet Ecker (Board rep.)
Ms. Ecker is the former president and CEO of the Toronto Financial Services Alliance (TFSA), a concept she turned into a growing and influential public–private partnership dedicated to building Toronto as an international financial services centre. With government and industry support, she also established the Global Risk Institute in Financial Services as well as the Centre of Excellence in Financial Services Education. Under her leadership, the TFSA led several other successful collaborations among governments and the financial sector.
Ms. Ecker was formerly the minister of finance for Ontario. During her political career, she also served as minister of education, as minister of community and social services and as government house leader. Before entering public life, Ms. Ecker was the director of policy for the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.
She has received numerous awards including the Order of Canada and a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for public service.
Dr. Robyn MacQuarrie (Atlantic)
Dr. MacQuarrie is a community-based OBGYN with an academic appointment at Dalhousie University. She teaches the OBGYN ethics component of the UGME clerkship, has completed postgraduate training in ethics and is currently pursuing a PhD in bioethics. Her specific area of research is the appropriate inclusion of pregnant women in clinical trials, which she was invited to present on at the World Global Ethics Forum.
Dr. MacQuarrie is a reviewer on Nova Scotia’s Research Ethics Board, which requires regular engagement with the Tri‐Council Policy Statement and formalized thought around research ethics and practical implementations. She previously served a two‐year term on the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee on Ethics and is the primary author of its policy on research involving pregnant women.
Dr. Julie Richer (Ontario)
Dr. Richer is a clinical medical geneticist at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa. Her clinical practice primarily focuses on the care of patients with heritable connective tissue diseases. She also maintains a general genetics practice and is chair of the Ethics, Education and Public Policy Committee of the Canadian College of Medical Geneticists. Ethical issues related to genetics are Dr. Richer’s primary interest. These include the perception of risk and issues related to disclosing results derived from research that uses untargeted genetic testing, patenting of the human genome and direct-to-consumer genetic testing. Dr. Richer completed medical school at L’Université de Montreal, FRCPC in medical genetics at the University of Manitoba and a fellowship in medical ethics at Harvard University.
Dr. Sharron Spicer (Prairies/Northwest Territories)
Dr. Spicer is a clinician and a medical leader who has contributed extensive clinical and organizational experience related to ethics. She has practised for nearly 20 years as a pediatrician, including 15 years in pediatric palliative care, where Dr. Spicer encountered ethical issues related to the provision of complex and end-of-life care, surrogate decision-making, and advocacy.
In 2003, Dr. Spicer earned a certificate in medical ethics from the Provincial Health Ethics Network. She has lectured on topics such as palliative sedation, withdrawal of artificial hydration and nutrition, medical marijuana and medical assistance in dying. She is active on numerous hospital committees, including as chair of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Ethics Committee, Mortality Review Committee and Quality Assurance Committee.
Her time as a medical leader at the local and provincial levels has given Dr. Spicer a strong understanding of current issues the profession faces, including resource allocation and service delivery planning.
Observers and guests may be invited to attend CMA Committee on Ethics meetings when necessary for the committee’s work.
Dr. Anna Ziomek
Federation of Medical Regulatory Authorities of Canada
Dr. Ziomek has worked as a physician in Winnipeg for more than 30 years and as a medical administrator for more than 20. Her medical administration roles include chief medical officer of Concordia Hospital, assistant registrar of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba (CPSM), and her current position as registrar of CPSM. Dr. Ziomek is an international medical graduate with a medical degree from the Medical Academy of Gdansk, Poland.
Dr. Ziomek has been actively involved in the Federation of Medical Regulatory Authorities of Canada for several years, serving as president from June 2016 to June 2018.
Dr. Ross Upshur
College of Family Physicians of Canada
Dr. Upshur is the Head, Division of Clinical Public Health at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and Associate Director, Lunenfeld Tanenbaum Research Institute, Sinai Health System. He is a professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto and Scientific Director of the Bridgepoint Collaboratory for Research and Innovation, Sinai Health System.
Dr. Patrick McDonald
Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada
Dr. McDonald is a pediatric neurosurgeon at the Children's Hospital of Winnipeg and head of the Section of Neurosurgery at the University of Manitoba. He is a faculty member at Neuroethics Canada at the University of British Columbia. He is the chair of the Ethics Committee at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and has an active research program looking at ethical issues in the development of novel technological innovations in the treatment of neurologic illness.
Dr. Cécile Bensimon
Director, Ethics and Professional Affairs at the CMA
Dr. Bensimon has expertise in ethics, medical professionalism, health policy, and strategic policy development and analysis. She has experience in multiple health system environments, the Canadian Foreign Service, and management consultancy. She is a bilingual editor of the Canadian Journal of Bioethics and an adjunct professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Ottawa.
Dr. Bensimon has been a visiting scholar at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler School of Medicine in humanitarian and disaster ethics. During the H1N1 pandemic, she guided vaccination prioritization plans as ethics advisor to the Canadian Public Health Agency and Public Health Ontario.
She co-authored Bioindustry Ethics, a book on ethical decision-making and corporate social responsibility in the bioscience industry. Her publications have appeared in the British Journal of Psychiatry, the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, Public Health Ethics, and Social Science and Medicine.