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
Dr. Olivia Lee (Resident Doctors of Canada)
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.
Ms. Gali Katznelson (Canadian Federation of Medical Students)
Gali Katznelson’s passion lies at the intersection of medicine, health policy and bioethics. Before starting her medical education at Western University, Ms. Katznelson graduated from McMaster University with a bachelor’s degree in arts and science and from Harvard University with a master’s degree in bioethics. During her master’s training, she was a student fellow at the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology and Bioethics at Harvard Law School, where she later returned as a research assistant. Ms. Katznelson worked with her mentors on research on the ethics of artificial intelligence, opioid policy, solitary confinement, medical education, genetic testing and pandemic response.
Now at Western, Ms. Katznelson serves as class president, is a writer for the ethics and law section of a student journal and co-leads the Political Advocacy Committee’s initiative to increase access to free tax clinics. She has helped lead newcomer, homeless and women’s health outreach initiatives, including efforts to start a student-run clinic for the community of London, Ontario. She has also participated on policy committees with the Ontario Medical Student Association and the Canadian Federation of Medical Students.
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.
Dr. Tim Holland (Chair)
Dr. Holland divides his clinical time between emergency medicine and family medicine. In addition to his role as Committee on Ethics chair, he's the current president of Doctors Nova Scotia and served on the CMA Code of Ethics Revision Task Force. Dr. Holland took an elective focus on bioethics throughout his education at Dalhousie University’s medical school and has continued to incorporate ethical principles into his life and career.
In 2014, Dr. Holland founded the Newcomer Health Clinic in Halifax. He continues to serve as a physician lead for this clinic, a role that included overseeing the Syrian refugee influx of 2016. Dr. Holland divides his family medicine time between refugee health (at the Newcomer Health Clinic) and First Nations health (at the Sipekne’katik Health Centre in Indian Brook, Nova Scotia).
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. 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.