26th Annual Canadian Bioethics Society Conference

May 27th - 29th, 2015, Winnipeg, MB

Radisson Hotel Winnipeg Downtown


Agenda | Who Should Attend | Theme | CBS | Steering Committee | CECs | Rates | Pre-Conference Sessions | Posters | Fundraiser

The 26th Annual Conference and Meeting of the Canadian Bioethics Society will take place in Winnipeg, the "Heart of the Continent", from May 27-29, 2015.

The conference theme: Shadows and Light: Bioethics and Human Rights, invites presenters and participants to contemplate a broad canvas of ethical concern from the particular and familiar encounters of traditional domains in bioethics – patient and caregiver/subject and researcher relationships - to the global stage.

Bioethics strives for a common language to express a universally shared framework for addressing problems that plague and challenge humankind. Bioethics and human rights endeavors both grapple with basic issues of human nature, human equality and human dignity. This conference opens the door, and hopefully the imagination, to identification, analysis, evaluation, discussion and debate of matters that illustrate the interplay of bioethics and human rights in:


The 2015 CBS Annual Conference Steering Committee is pleased to announce that this year's agenda is complete and available for your review!

Please click below to read over the Full Agenda, including abstracts. More information to come, this agenda will be constantly updated and changed.


Agenda at a Glance

To download a pdf of this Agenda at a Glance, please click the chart below.


Who Should Attend

Consistent with its theme, the conference will be of interest to, and is designed to engage, those traditionally involved in a variety of bioethics activity, as well as those who may not have been historically involved in such discussions, but whose contributions and involvement are crucial to inclusive and open-minded dialogue. Participants are anticipated to include:


Shadows and Light: Bioethics and Human Rights

Welcoming a diversity of people and a diversity of ideas, the conference recognizes the shared foundations of the modern concept of human rights and bioethics both emerging in the 20th century as responses to dark events in human history; both proposing remedies to right policies and practices that undermine the interests of human beings.

In 2015, where are the shadows and what light reveals the connection between bioethics and human rights?

The Canadian Bioethics Society

The Canadian Bioethics Society (CBS) is a national, member-driven, charitable organization serving as a forum for individuals interested in sharing ideas relating to bioethics. The CBS was created in 1988 from the fusion of the Canadian Society of Bioethics and the Société canadienne de la bioéthique médicale.

The CBS sees bioethics in its broadest sense, concerned with ethical issues relating to human life and health, biology, and the environment.

Members of the CBS include those interested in learning more about bioethics, as well as those engaged in a variety of related activities including research in bioethics; ethics in health policy; bioethics teaching and education; research ethics; delivery and planning of health and health care; and public engagement and consultation on bioethics issues, amongst others.

The CBS and its Annual Conference aims to be inclusive of all these areas of endeavor, as well as a growing number of others exploring the interface between ethics and health/the life sciences.

The 2015 Steering Committee

In conjunction with the Canadian Bioethics Society Board, the CBS Annual Conference 2015 is a collaborative initiative led by representatives of Winnipeg Regional Health Authority Ethics Service, University of Manitoba, St. Boniface Hospital, Manitoba Provincial Health Ethics Network and Lakehead University. Steering committee members are listed below.

The Steering Committee would also like to recognize the contributions of:

Continuing Education Credits

Details regarding continuing education credits for health care professionals and managers will be made available shortly after the finalized program is published. Please check back for further information soon.

Conference Rates

CBS Member Conference Registration
Regular Price - $610.00
Early Bird Price - $510.00

Non-Member Conference Registration
Regular Price - $740.00
Early Bird Price - $640.00

CBS Member Student Conference Registration
Regular Price - $200.00
Early Bird Price - $175.00

Non-Member Student Conference Registration
Regular Price - $240.00
Early Bird Price - $215.00

** Early Bird Deadline is Friday, April 3rd, 2015.

Pre-Conference Sessions - Wednesday, May 27, 8:00 am - 12:00 pm

(An additional fee of $150 applies to all Pre-Conference Session registrations)

W1: Toward Aboriginal Bioethics searching for pathways, discerning signposts

The ethics of conducting research with Aboriginal participants has been given considerable attention. A gap exists, however, in the level of analysis accorded to the clinical and organizational ethics issues encountered by or associated with accessing healthcare within this same population. Given Aboriginal populations suffer from much higher morbidity and mortality rates than the general Canadian population, and that Aboriginal patients represent a significant and growing proportion of patients in our health care system, this is a glaring deficiency. The involvement of Western scholarship and science in Aboriginal cultures and communities has historically been exploitative, harmful, and ineffectual. Consequently, ad hoc adjustments of contemporary bioethics theory and practice to accommodate Aboriginal patients are inadequate. Given this history, it is clear that the discipline of Aboriginal bioethics must be built on indigenous philosophy, worldviews and practices. This can only happen if Aboriginal scholars and leaders are catalysts in this enterprise.

This premise might suggest that non-Aboriginal scholars have no role to play in the development of Aboriginal bioethics, but this is untrue. Solidarity work centers on educating dominant institutions and individuals about the intersections between prejudice and structural discrimination and the social determinants of health which have created the conditions which currently confront Aboriginal communities. This concern is not an abstract problem. Problems of race, of economic inequality, and of gender currently cause direct harm through denial of access to health care, culturally incompetent health care, lower quality health care, and diminished health outcomes. Those of us engaged in teaching, consulting and researching bioethics have a responsibility to do what we can to assist the development of an Aboriginal Health care ethics.

This workshop will engage participants in the search for contributions we could or ought to make, directions for which we need to advocate, and sign posts which may tell us that we are moving in the right direction. To start the discussion, we offer the following list of topics (work assignments or research projects) we consider relevant:

  1. Listening respectfully, recording and considering the experiences of Aboriginal patients and their families in encounters with the health care system, being prepared that this may reveal a pattern of unfair discrimination and prejudices.
  2. Evaluating and drawing moral conclusions from the current discrepancy in health care status of the Aboriginal population in comparison with other Canadians, and mobilizing resources within the bioethics community to diminish and eliminate this inequality as a National goal.
  3. Facilitating the engagement of Aboriginal elders and healers who wish to share their wisdom and experience, recognizing them as a treasured resource in the effort to develop Aboriginal bioethics and attend to the health-care needs and expectations of Aboriginal patients and other Canadians.
  4. Identifying and promoting ethically superior practices toward cultural competency and cultural safety in all health care institutions and environments.
  5. Exploring the needs and expectations of Aboriginal patients and communities regarding privacy and confidentiality in health care and assess the desirable adjustments of Canadian laws, regulations and practices.

The workshop will have 3 parts:


W2: Child Rights in Health Care

While child rights have traditionally been embedded within statutes, case law and international documents like the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, they can also be found in cultural and religious practices and organizational policies that inform the way children and youth access health care. The Human Rights theme of the Canadian Bioethics Society's 2015 conference, provides ideal timing for a pre-conference on Child Rights.


AGENDA - 8:30 am - 12:15 pm (followed by a light lunch)

Randi Zlotnik Shaul JD, LLM PhD – Director Bioethics Department, The Hospital for Sick Children
Introduce Paediatric Bioethics Network and pre-conference objectives
Presentation time: 7 minutes

Situating Child Rights in Ethics and Law
Michael Da Silva JD, MA, SJD candidate University of Toronto Faculty of Law, CIHR Vanier Canada Graduate Scholar, CIHR Training Fellow in Health Law, Ethics and Policy.
Presentation time: 20 minutes | Discussion time: 10 minutes

Ethical and Legal Tensions and Synergies in Patient and Family-Centred Care
Randi Zlotnik Shaul JD, LLM, PhD - Director Bioethics Department, The Hospital for Sick Children, [Application of ethical and legal rights and responsibilities across a range of clinical contexts]
Presentation time: 15 minutes

Child Rights in Practice
Janis Purdy MM – Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, [Case narratives, the role of child advocates - linking child rights and paediatric bioethics]
Presentation time: 15 minutes | Discussion time: 15 minutes

10:00 am | Break

Child Rights in an Aboriginal Context
Moderator Dr Ian Mitchell, Professor of Paediatrics, University of Calgary, Paediatric Respirologist

Dr. Marcia Anderson De Coteau MD MPH FRCPC Head Section of First Nations, Metis and Inuit Health, Department of Community Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba [Bringing an Aboriginal lens to the concept of child rights]
Presentation time: 15 minutes

Limit to Child Rights?
Lee Ann Chapman JD Triage Lawyer PBLO at SickKids (a pro bono legal service for low & moderate income families) [Presentation inspired by two 2014 cases of aboriginal children refusing chemotherapy in favour of traditional / CAM Therapies]
Presentation time: 15 minutes | Discussion time: 15 minutes

Quick Hits
Moderator Christy Simpson PhD Head Department of Bioethics Dalhousie University, Halifax, Capital Health, IWK Health Centre.

Child Rights and Ebola
James Dwyer PhD Upstate Medical University, Center for Bioethics and Humanities [What should we be thinking about re child rights and planning for Ebola?]
Presentation time: 10 minutes

Child Rights and Global Paediatric Bioethics
Cecile Bensimon MA, PhD Academic Bioethics Consultant [What is the relationship between child rights and global paediatric bioethics?]
Presentation time: 10 minutes

Child Rights and Social Media
Becky Greenberg RN, PhD Bioethicist, The Hospital for Sick Children. [What implications might child rights have for how we in health care engage with social media?]
Presentation time: 10 minutes

Facilitated group discussion
Christy Simpson PhD Head Department of Bioethics Dalhousie University, Halifax, Capital Health, IWK Health Centre. [Take-aways from the morning, significance for the future]
Discussion time: 20 minutes

Thank you – looking ahead with the Paediatric Bioethics Network
Randi Zlotnik Shaul


W3: Forced Organ Harvesting in China - What can we do?

China has massive organ transplant volumes, second only to the United States, but almost no donors. Virtually all organs for transplantation come from prisoners. Evidence collected by researcher, including Canadian lawyers David Matas and David Kilgour, American journalist Ethan Gutmann and American medical academic Kirk Allison conclude that the bulk of Chinese transplant organ sources are prisoners of conscience, killed through organ extraction. Of these prisoners of conscience, the primary victims are practitioners of the traditional Chinese meditative practice Falun Gong. Bio-ethics need an elaboration to address this particular abuse and avoid Canadian complicity in it. The presentation would indicate what that elaboration should be.

The pre-conference topic captures a global human rights violation – the Forced Organ Harvesting in China. The medical field has paid attention to this ethical violation in recent years. A group of doctors from different countries had formed a NGO called Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting. A forum was recently held in Toronto at the Institute of Transplantation, UHN where medical doctors, bioethicists and lawyers spoke out against such practice when responding to a new book, The Slaughter, authored by Ethan Gutmann. This pre-conference is to arouse discussion among bioethics and related professionals and formulate appropriate actions that Canadian medical professionals can take.


9 - 9:15 am | Introduction and a documentary introducing the Forced Organ Harvesting issue in China

9:15 - 9:45 am | Evidence compiled by the Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH) – representative from DAFOH

9:45 - 10:30 am | Ethical standards necessary to avoid complicity in foreign organ transplant abuse – David Matas, renowned international human rights lawyer, Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Order of Canada and Carthage International Award recipient, co-author of Bloody Harvest, co-editor of State Organs

10:30 - 10:45 am | Coffee break

10:45 - 11:15 am | What has been done so far and what can we do? – Maria Cheung, Faculty of Social Work, University of Manitoba

11:15 am - 12 pm | Q & A and Formulation of Actions


W4: HTA 101

Health technology assessment (HTA) is becoming an increasingly common input into health care decision making. As a result, the assumptions, approaches, and vocabularies that constitute HTA are encountered more frequently in health care discourse. The use of HTA pushes decision makers at institutional, regional, and provincial levels to more explicitly identify and address ethical issues associated with health technologies as well as other important value judgments in their decision making. For ethicists to appropriately and adequately support both HTA processes and decision makers who use them, it is important that ethicists become familiar and comfortable with the processes and content of HTA.

This half-day workshop aims to introduce those with an interest in HTA to be introduced to and better understand what HTA is, to become better familiar with key concepts and terminology, and to become familiar with some common analytic approaches in the assessment of health technologies. Participants will get introductions to assessments of clinical effectiveness and safety, meta-analysis, cost-effectiveness, ethical issues, and organizational and implementation issues. Participants will become familiar with these various aspects of HTA through the assessment of a single technology..

By the end of the workshop, participants will be able to

  1. Describe HTA and its connection with health care decision making
  2. Describe common approaches to assessing clinical effectiveness and safety
  3. Describe risk of bias assessment and the most common aspects assessed
  4. Describe common approaches and basic concepts in economic evaluation
  5. Describe approaches to addressing ethical issues

WORKSHOP OUTLINE | 8:30 am - 12:30 pm


Introduction (30 min)

  1. HTA as value-based activity
  2. Overview of HTA

PART A. Evidence synthesis (60 min)
Approaches to assessing clinical effectiveness and safety: systematic reviews and meta-analysis

PART B. Evidence synthesis cont’d (15 min)
Assessing risk of bias

Coffee Break (15 minutes)

PART C. Economic evaluation (45 min)
1. Fundamentals of economic evaluation (key concepts, quality assessment, etc.)
2. Example of cost-effectiveness evaluation
3. Current issues and challenges in economic evaluation

PART D. Ethical Issues in HTA (45 min)
1. Dimensions of ethical issues in HTA
2. Approaches to addressing ethical issues in HTA

Wrap Up (10 min)

Facilitators include:


Posters will be on display throughout the conference. Delegates are encouraged to view them, and seek out their authors for questions and comments.

(1)  Infertility Treatment in an Overwhelmed System: Couples’ experience of fertility clinics post government funding of IVF in Quebec
Carolyn Ells
Associate Professor of Medicine, McGill University

(2)  Exploring Everyday Ethics and its Applications in Parkinson’s Disease
Natalie Zizzo
MSc Candidate, Neuroethics Research Unit, Institut de recherches cliniques de Montreal

(3)  Health Policy Analysis of Research Ethics Review Regimes in Canada
Vasiliki Rahimzadeh
PhD Candidate, McGill University

(4)  Respect, dignity and autonomy: Central elements of a therapeutic relationship that supports recovery from mental illness
Pamela Khan
Senior Lecturer, Lawrence S Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto

(5)  Protecting The Patient-Physician Relationship: The Nature of Disciplinary Offenses Committed By Family Physicians In Canada
Sabrina Akhtar
Family Physician, Toronto Western Family Health Team

(6)  The Case for Public Awareness and Education around Bioethics through Social Media
Ruby Rajendra Shanker
Graduate Student, Master of Health Sciences in Bioethics, Joint Centre for Bioethics, University of Toronto

(7)  Organizational Ethics in the Community: Considering Ethics Needs in the Community Healthcare Sector
Michelle Jones
Client Care Coordinator, VON SMILE Program & University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics

(8)  Ethics Framework: A Guide for AHS Staff, Physicians and Volunteers
Al-Noor Nenshi Nathoo | Kimberley Stever
Ethics Education Consultant

Manitoba Social & Who Knew?!... Talent Show

Thursday, May 28, 2015 at 7:00 pm

Terrace West Room, Radisson Hotel, Winnipeg  |  Everyone is welcome to attend!

Manitoba Social

Who Knew?!... Talent Show

Who Knew They Had That Talent?! CBS Board Members and others will surprise you with singing, dancing, magic and more.

Everyone is encouraged to join the show – to book your talent, email info@bioethics.ca

The Line-Up

This list will be updated as more acts are booked!


For more info about the event, please contact the CBS at info@bioethics.ca