Halton Healthcare is a member of the Regional Ethics Program. The Regional Ethics Program is an ethics service provider administered through Trillium Health Partners.

Everyone has a role to play in ensuring the ethical delivery of care, from bedside to boardroom. Ethical principles and values are incorporated into the way that decisions are made and care is delivered every day.

Contacting an Ethicist

First, discuss any treatment decisions with your healthcare team. After having discussed your treatment decisions with your health care team, you may wish to contact the Ethicist for any of the following reasons:

  • If you are uncertain about what decision should be made
  • If there are differences of opinion about what decision should be made
  • If you would like to explore further the ethical and legal aspects of a decision

To contact an Ethicist at Halton Healthcare, please email or call 905-845-2571 ext. 6165.

What is Ethics?

Ethics can be described as a way of critically looking at issues in health care that encompasses:

  • Deciding what we should do–what decisions are morally right or acceptable based on the values and principles we agree are relevant
  • Explaining why we should do it; justifying our decision using a language of values and principles to explain why
  • Describing how we should do it–outlining an appropriate process for enacting the decision.

Definition developed by Dr. Barbara Secker, University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics.

Role of an Ethicist

While in the hospital you may be faced with making difficult treatment decisions for yourself or a family member. The Ethicist’s role is to facilitate good decision-making processes and support individuals through those processes.

The Ethicist may be able to help you...

  • Identify the information you need to make a treatment decision
  • Understand the ethical and legal implications of your treatment decision
  • Explore the benefits and burdens of different treatment options
  • Link you with other persons and resources within and outside the organization

The process of Making an Ethical Decision

What is the general process for making an Ethical Decision?

Halton Healthcare uses the IDEA Framework for Ethical Decision Making.

Identify the Facts:

Gather information about the facts of the situation and identify the ethical issue(s).
Ensure participation of relevant individuals in the decision-making process.

Determine the Ethical Principles

Clarify the ethical principles that are at stake (e.g., patient’s values and beliefs, benefits, harms, fairness). Consider other factors such as the law and organizational policies.

Explore options

Identify various courses of action; weigh the likely benefits and burdens of each alternative.

Act and Evaluate

Choose a course of action–Ask the question “Am I comfortable with this decision?”
Evaluate the outcome and amend the decision as appropriate.

Web Resources

The following websites provide information about a variety of ethical issues:

Advance Care Planning

A Guide to Advance Care Planning
Five Wishes

Consent & Capacity

Consent & Capacity Board

Decision-making Guides for Patients

Ottawa Health Research Institute

Organ Transplantation

Trillium Gift of Life Network

Mental Health

Psychiatric Patient Advocate Office (Info Guides)


Information and Privacy Commissioner/Ontario

Substitute Decision-Making

Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee