There are many rules that must be adhered to when describing a course of ethics. The purpose of this reading, “Ethics,” was to inform readers of the rules and regulations set forth by the Research Ethics Board of Canada. The ethics board keeps a close watch over matters of all types of human research. The given selection made obvious the Canadian government’s involvement in the research practices of its countrymen, and also the government’s commitment to keeping human research work ethically sound.
The Research Ethics Board of Canada, or the REB, must be consulted in every instance of “research involving human subjects” (p. 3). Part of their job is to make sure that the safety of the living research subjects is held in high esteem. They also provide a “clear moral foundation” for research practices (p. 54). The REB is not limited to cases of research on the living. Even in the case of deceased bodies, the REB requires that “respect” is in order due to the “dignity of the person from whom tissue is obtained” (p. 76).
Regarding the ethical treatment of the living and the dead, the REB has the final say so in what can or cannot be done with a human body, and their opinions supersede those of the researchers (p. 3). The REB oversees laboratory practices, but they also oversee ethical treatment of humans in the public sector as well. In the public sector, celebrities and sports figures are often hounded by reporters and photographers. The REB, however, protects some of their privacy by including in their general policies rules about research on “living people in the public arena” (p. 1).
The REB does not regulate research about people who fall into this classification unless “the subject is approached directly for interviews or for access to private papers” (p. 1). When such requests occur, the REB must step in and confirm that the “research” is being done ethically and in accordance with policy (p. 1). One could safely assume that most people wanting information for unethical purposes would be dissuaded by the measure of protection the REB provides. The REB may just have a general measure of authority in research in the public sector, but in some research situations, they assume a great amount of control.
In cases of extremely invasive or “potentially harmful” research, the REB must assess, monitor, and review each case with “intense scrutiny” (p. 9). The REB especially monitors cases that are “the most ethically challenging” (p. 9). Some of these cases may include situations where children are involved. Potential “physical, moral, psychological, and social consequences” must be provided for review by the REB before research on a child, particularly a very sick child, can be approved (p. 28).
Even if the research is approved, the REB gives the final decision about the research to the person who will be undergoing it. The REB works with people who usually would not be able to indicate consent, such as young children, Alzheimer’s patients, and the cognitively impaired (p. 29). In the interest of ethical behavior, if the person indicates that they do not want to take part in the research, the REB will step in and remove them from the situation. Even though the REB is a governmental agency, they still have control over what happens medically to the most frail and innocent patients.
It would be unethical to include a person in a study that they did not choose to take part in, so in the name of ethics the REB stops researchers from taking advantage of perilous situations. The protection of the people of Canada is the main job of the REB. Even though some people are opposed to governmental intrusion into areas of health and ethical treatment, the REB is a good example of appropriate governmental intervention into such research. Canada has an excellent model for the rest of the world.