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The JCB Voice

Mar-Apr 2020 / Vol. 25 / No. 6
In this month's issue:
Featured / In the News / Announcements / Events / Fellowship Opportunities / Call for Submissions / Publications


COVID-19 Bioethics Resources

We have compiled a COVID-19 bioethics resource page that includes information on previous public health emergencies, resources for COVID-19 preparedness planning and response, and information and updates from Canadian governing bodies and the World Health Organization.
» Read more

Webinar: Ethics of Using Restrictive Measures in the Control of Infectious Diseases

On April 2nd, the DLPSH and JCB co-presented this second webinar in the COVID-19 series which explored the ethics of using restrictive measures in the control of infectious diseases. Moderated by Ross Upshur, with panelists Anna Banerji, Jeff Kwong, Trudo Lemmens, Christopher Rutty, and Alison Thompson. 
» Watch webinar

In the News

Ontario Officials Creating Ethical Guidelines for Hospitals' Response to COVID-19 They Hope to Never Have to Use

Ontario officials creating ethical guidelines for hospitals’ response to COVID-19 they hope to never have to use. (Jennifer Gibson, QP Briefing)
» Read more

When Assisted Dying Means You Have to Go Before You're Ready

Grappling with Alzheimer's, Leila Bell decided to end her life. She used her final days to call on Canada to change its rules. (Jennifer Gibson, The Guardian)
» Read more

Virtual Health Care Is Having Its Moment. Rules Will Be Needed.

The global COVID pandemic has forced health systems to innovate quickly to protect patients and providers. (Jay Shaw,
» Read more

'Different Than Anything We've Seen': ICU Doctors Question Use of Ventilators on Some COVID-19 Patients

Some are now asking, can we stave off ventilating some patients, and increase the chances of people being discharged from hospital alive? (James Downar, National Post)
» Read more

As COVID-19 Crisis Worsens, Health-Care Providers Question How Much Mortal Risk They Should Be Asked to Take

Some doctors and nurses are asking, do they have an obligation, a duty to care, if faced with a nightmare shortage of supplies and equipment? (Ross Upshur, National Post)
» Read more

COVID-19 Could Kill 3,000 to 15,000 People in Ontario, Provincial Modelling Shows

Officials say province could be dealing with the effects of COVID-19 for up to 18 months to 2 years. (Steini Brown, CBC News)
» Read more
» View technical briefing slides

How to Interpret COVID-19 Disease Models and Projections

Governments are releasing projections of how many people could die from COVID-19. But how accurate are they? (Ross Upshur, CBC News)
» Read more

DLSPH Event: COVID-19 and Health Equity for Marginalized Populations

The third COVID-19 webinar explored the health disparities that COVID-19 has exposed among marginalized populations in Canada. (Ross Upshur,
» Watch now

Palliative Care in a Pandemic: 'Patients Who Are Not Expected to Survive Should Not Be Abandoned'

Local palliative care providers are racing to overcome logistical hurdles — acquiring personal protective equipment, training staff, co-ordinating resources — in order to provide end-of-life care to those people expected to die at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. (James Downar, Ottawa Citizen)
» Read more

Pandemic Prompts Fear That People With Disabilities Will Be Deprioritized for Lifesaving Care

Some people with disabilities and their families fear that if the COVID-19 pandemic worsens and decisions have to be made about who lives and who dies, they will be seen as less deserving of lifesaving care than neurotypical and able-bodied people — guidelines one expert says the province hasn't made clear enough. (Trudo Lemmens, QP Briefing)
» Read more

Ontario Reviewing Ethical Guidelines for Who Gets Care If COVID-19 Cases Overwhelm System

Ministry of Health says it has enough ventilators to match current needs. (Alison Thompson & JCB, CBC News)
» Listen now

What Is a Ventilator and Who Gets One If COVID-19 Turns Catastrophic in Canada?

Answers to some key questions about potentially life-saving devices for critically ill COVID-19 patients. (Ross Upshur, CBC News)
» Read more

Hot Topics in COVID-19 With Dr. Ross Upshur

With the pandemic of COVID-19 spreading everywhere around the world right now, there's a lot of fear, frustration, and anxiety. (Ross Upshur, Small Changes Big Impact Podcast)
» Listen now

Ontario Developing ‘Last Resort’ Guidelines on Which Patients to Prioritize If Hospitals Are Overwhelmed by Critical COVID-19 Cases

The provincial government has developed a "triage protocol" for doctors who may soon be forced to make ethically fraught decisions over how to ration critical care beds and ventilators — a policy document that will shape life-or-death choices over which patients to prioritize if hospitals become overwhelmed by the COVID-19 outbreak. (Trudo Lemmens, The Star)
» Read more

Coronavirus Outbreak Raises Ethical Dilemmas for Governments and Health-Care Systems

From the restriction of fundamental liberties to the rationing of scarce medical resources, the spread of COVID-19 is expected to raise extraordinary ethical dilemmas for leaders in government and the health-care system. (Sally Bean, The Globe and Mail)
» Read more

Coronavirus: Dealing With the Anxiety of Self-Isolation Amid a Pandemic

As countries hunker down to battle the dreaded novel coronavirus, schools are closed, events have been cancelled and restaurants and recreational activities have been shut down. (Alison Thompson, City News)
» Read more

Canada Hasn't Flattened the Curve, But Is Doing Much Better Than the US

So far, Canada's coronavirus cases are doubling at a slower rate than elsewhere, and hospitals are not yet overwhelmed. (Barry Pakes, Vice)
» Read more

Canadian Hospitals to Start Enrolling Patients in Global COVID-19 Drug Trials

Within the next week, more than a dozen Canadian hospitals will start enrolling patients as part of an unprecedented global collaboration to test four potential treatments for COVID-19. (Ross Upshur, The Star)
» Read more

Stopping COVID-19 Could Require Eight Months of 'Aggressive Social Distancing,' Outbreak Modelling Shows

Even if we were to ease up on the suppression strategies every four weeks or so, community transmission takes off again, according to the model. (Ross Upshur, National Post)
» Read more

How to Help Your Elderly Parent or Grandparent Navigate the COVID-19 Pandemic

Seniors homes across the country have tightened visitation hours and broadened restrictions for the elderly as Canada’s older population proves to be at the highest risk of contracting a fatal diagnosis of COVID-19. (Alison Thompson, The Star)
» Read more

U of T Donates Masks, Gowns and Other Critical Supplies to Health-Care Workers Combatting COVID-19

The University of Toronto is scouring labs across its three campuses for masks, gloves and other badly-needed protective equipment to donate to health-care workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis. (JCB, U of T News)
» Read more

Countries Opt for Phone Tracking Amid Coronavirus — Should Canada?

Nations around the world are rapidly widening their tactics to help stop the spread of the new coronavirus. (Kerry Bowman, Global News)
» Read more

Coronavirus is not the 'Great Equalizer' – Race Matters: U of T Expert

One of the first stories to use race-based data to talk about the risk that Black communities face because of COVID-19 came on March 30 from the Charlotte Observer. (U of T News)
» Read more

COVID-19 Resources Canada

COVID-19 Resources Canada is a central hub designed to help those involved in COVID-19 research and development in Canada to locate human resources, expertise, reagents, equipment and information in a timely manner. (COVID-19 Resources Canada)
» Read more

U of T to Host 'Virtual' Spring Convocation Ceremony, Celebrate Graduates at In-Person Events Later in Year

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic that has upended life around the world, the University of Toronto plans to host a "virtual" convocation ceremony this spring while academic divisions can make preparations to celebrate graduates with in-person events once it's safe to do so. (U of T News)
» Read more

Why COVID-19 Deniers Stick to Their Beliefs

Even in the face of rising global and US COVID-19 cases and deaths, many people hold on to the belief that the pandemic is "fake" or overblown, experts say. (Futurity)
» Read more


Cécile Bensimon has accepted the role of Research Ethics Board Chair with The Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario.

Maxwell Smith received a CIHR Planning Grant for his project "Establishing a Relationship Between Philosophy and Epidemiological Research and Practice: Modelling Ethical Standards of Health Equity (MESHE)".


Equity, Rights & Global Health during COVID-19

Online Webinar (Centre for Global Health, DLSPH)
April 15, 2020
The COVID-10 webinar will explore the intersection of equity, rights and global health during the COVID-19 crisis. The COVID-19 crisis has brought to light the already pre-existing and underlying inequities in our health, social, economic and political systems.
» Read more

Health Equity, Determinants of Health and COVID-19: Conversation 3

Online Webinar (National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health)
April 15, 2020
This is an opportunity for the public health field to explore equity-informed responses through action on the social and structural determinants of health. The conversation will connect practitioners with each other, and provide an opportunity to share experiences, resources, questions and solutions-focused ideas.
» Read more

Together vs Virus

Online Hackathon Against COVID-19
April 17-19, 2020
48 hours. You and potentially 37 million others. The Covid-19 crisis in Canada. In North America. Worldwide. We stick together. We find solutions! Join us with your skills to take on the challenge now - no matter what your background is. Together we are strong!
» Read more

Fellowship Opportunities

Fellowship in Clinical, Organizational and Research Ethics

Centre for Clinical Ethics (Unity Health), Toronto, ON
The Centre for Clinical Ethics (CCE) invites applications for a one-year, full-time Fellowship in Clinical, Organizational and Research Ethics starting in September 2020 in Toronto, Canada.
Deadline to apply: April 17, 2020
» Read more

Call for Submissions



Turtle Island Journal of Indigenous Health

We are pleased to announce our first call for submissions for our first issue. As this is our first issue, we are open to a wide range of topics including, but are not limited to, Indigenous research ethics, data sovereignty, environmental health, and issues connected to Land.
Submission deadine: April 19, 2020
» Read more


  • Arya A, Buchman S, Gagnon B, Downar J. Pandemic Palliative Care: Beyond Ventilators and Saving Lives. CMAJ. 31 March 2020:1-5. Read more
  • Bell JAH, Schmilovich Z, Buchman DZ, Escaf M, Costello J, Messner HA. First Ready, First to Go: Ethical Priority-Setting of Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplant at a Major Cancer Centre. Healthcare Policy. 2020;15(3):102-15. Read more
  • Benatar S, Gill S. Universal Access to Health Care: The Case of South Africa in the Comparative Global Context of the Late Anthropocene Era. International Journal of Health Policy Management. 1 March 2020:1-6. Read more
  • Benatar S, Sanders D, Gill S. The Global Politics of Healthcare Reform. In: The Oxford Handbook of Global Health Politics. McInnes C, Lee K, Youde J, eds. March 2020 (in print). Read more
  • Boulanger RF, Komparic A, Dawson A, Upshur REG, Silva DS. Developing and Implementing new TB Technologies: Key Informants’ Perspectives on the Ethical Challenges. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry. 19 December 2019:1-9. Read more
  • Emanuel EJ, Persad G, Upshur R, Thome B, Parker M, Glickman A, Zhang C, Boyle C, Smith M, Phillips JP. Fair Allocation of Scarce Medical Resources in the Time of Covid-19. The New England Journal of Medicine. 23 March 2020:1-7. Read more
  • Smith MJ, Nixon S, Upshur R, Benatar SR, Daar AS, Thompson AK. Public Health Ethics. In: Public Health Law & Policy in Canada. 4th Ed. Bailey TM, Caulfield T, Ries NM, eds. 2019. Lexis Nexis Butterworths, Canada. Read more

If you have a publication you would like to add to next month's list, please email
Copyright © 2020 University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics, All rights reserved.