In 1982 the Sisters of St. Joseph established a Clinical Ethics Service which was jointly sponsored by Providence Healthcare, St. Joseph’s Health Centre and St. Michael’s Hospital, three Catholic institutions which serve the Toronto area. The first ethics service of its kind in Canada, this service has grown over the years and today is known as the Centre for Clinical Ethics, a legally constituted joint venture of the three founding Catholic hospitals.
Our Mission & Values
The mission of the Centre for Clinical Ethics is to enable members of the health care community to identify and resolve ethical issues which arise in the clinical setting. This is done through education, case consultations, policy development, and research. As a faith-based Centre, our commitment is to the core values of our three founding institutions and to broadening the understanding of the role that faith plays in the questions which confront people in their search for healing.
What Is Clinical Ethics?
Ethics is about right and wrong and the reasons that we give for our choices and actions. We explore the question: What ought we to do and why?
Clinical ethics promotes reflective practice and the making of “right” choices and decisions in the delivery of health care.
It is not always clear what the “right” decision is in specific cases.
Different individuals (healthcare providers, patients, family members) may disagree about what the “right” decision should be.
- We consider “should” questions, such as:
- “Should we get consent for a “No CPR” order?
- “When should you report a colleague’s error?”
- “Should we hide medication in a patient’s food?”
- “When should you follow the advance directive of a patient with anorexia?”
- “Should those who can pay be able to jump the cue?”
In seeking answers to these questions, clinical ethicists in collaboration with healthcare team members, patients, and family members examine basic ethical principles such as autonomy (the right for individuals to make choices about what happens to them), beneficence (the desire to do good), non-maleficence (the duty to prevent harm), and justice (fairness).
Who We Are:
The Centre for Clinical Ethics (CCE) was established in 1982 to oversee the ethics needs of Providence Healthcare, St. Joseph’s Health Centre and St. Michael’s Hospital.
Today the CCE provides ethics services for Healthcare Organizations primarily in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area and Windsor, including:
- Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare – Windsor
- Lakeridge Health
- Pembroke General Hospital
- Scarborough Health Network
- Runnymede Healthcare Centre
- St. Joseph’s Health System – Hamilton
- Toronto Grace Health Centre
- Unity Health Toronto (Providence Healthcare, St. Joseph’s Health Centre and St. Michael’s Hospital)
- Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care
A key strength of the CCE is its team of clinical ethicists. Our team provides a wide breadth of experience and robust expertise, including multi-disciplinary and multicultural competencies. Areas of expertise covered by members of the team (all of whom have advanced degrees in bioethics or a related field) which include bioethicists with PhD’s, and two who are PhD candidates are the following:
- complexity in clinical ethical deliberation,
- mental health ethics,
- molecular genetics,
- organizational ethics,
- philosophy and theology,
- public health ethics,
- research ethics,
- spirituality, cultural competency, and
- social justice.
What We Do:
The Centre for Clinical Ethics provides consultative services to patients, families, hospital staff, volunteers, and students on a wide range of ethical issues across the life span. Frequently encountered issues include value conflicts around decisions such as withholding or withdrawing treatment, consent and capacity, resource allocation, and organizational ethics. We also work in the domains of policy development, education, research and research ethics.