Constitution & By-laws

The Constitution & By-Laws of the Canadian Bioethics Society were most recently revised at the Annual General Meeting in May 2019, as below.

Article 1: Name

 1.1 The name of the organization shall be the Canadian Bioethics Society - Société Canadienne de Bioéthique.

Article 2: Objectives


2.1 The Society shall be managed efficiently and democratically by a Board which is responsible to the general membership.

2.2 The Society shall provide a forum for interested professionals to exchange ideas and address problems in bioethics. It shall promote the teaching of bioethics at all levels of undergraduate, post-graduate and continuing education.  Research and publication in bioethics, the provision of ethics information for practicing professionals and for the general public, and the promotion of public dialogue and engagement regarding bioethics issues shall be encouraged. The Society’s activities and structure shall be reflective of the diversity of areas of bioethics inquiry and practice, including theory, policy and research, as well as clinical applications.

2.3 The Society will be bilingual in nature and proceedings.  Membership will be encouraged and welcomed from both English and French language groups; official documents of the Society will be prepared and provided in both English and French, and participants at meetings may speak in English or French.

2.4 The business of the Society shall be conducted without a purpose of financial gain for its members.  Any profit of the Society shall be used in promoting its objectives.


Article 1: Membership

1.1 The Society shall consist of active members and honorary members.

1.2 New members of the Society shall be accepted subject to approval by the Board.


1.3 The Society is primarily for persons who have an interest in teaching, research, policy or clinical aspects of bioethics.


1.4 Bona fide students may apply for membership at a reduced annual fee.


1.5 The Board may revoke the membership of any Society member whose actions are deemed to seriously and

adversely affect the integrity of the Society and its membership.


1.6 On the recommendation of any members, any individual may be proposed by the Board for election as an honorary member at the Annual Meeting.  Recipients of the CBS Lifetime Achievement Award and the Distinguished Service Award shall be granted Honorary member status. Honorary members are non-voting and pay no dues.


Article 2: Board                   


2.1 The Board derives its authority from the Constitution of the Society, and is charged with conducting the day-to-day business of the Society.  Key decisions made and actions taken by the Board shall be reported to the members at the Annual Business Meeting of the Society.


2.2 The Board shall consist of the President, the President-Elect or the Past-President, eight Officers, a Graduate and an Undergraduate Student-at-Large, the Treasurer, and the Communications Officer.


2.3 The President-Elect, Officers (Diversity, Membership, Conference liaison, Partnerships and Community Relations, Fundraising, New initiatives, Deputy communications, Social media), Treasurer and the Communications Officer shall be elected at the Annual Business Meeting of the Society relevant to the terms of their appointments.


2.4 The Graduate and Undergraduate Students-at-Large shall be elected at an annual Student Business Meeting of the Society at which only registered Society members who are bona fide students shall be eligible to attend and vote. The names of the duly elected Students-at-Large shall then be presented at the next Annual Business Meeting of the Society for ratification by the Society membership.


2.5 Ordinarily, one person will serve, sequentially and consecutively, as President-Elect, President, and Past-President: the term of office for the President shall be two years; the terms of office for the President-Elect and the Past-President shall be one year each. The eight Officers shall each be elected to serve two year terms, renewable once. The Graduate and Undergraduate Students-at-Large shall be elected to serve two-year terms, renewable once. The Treasurer and the Communications Officer shall each be elected to three-year terms, renewable once.


2.6 No person shall serve on the Board for more than six consecutive years.


2.7 The Board of the Society shall:

(a) Strive to alternate the Presidency between professionals in health sciences and professionals in the social sciences, public policy, humanities or law

(b) Have at least one Anglophone and one Francophone student representative

(c) Strive to have at least one person from each of the following disciplines or categories who has or has had a significant involvement in teaching, research or clinical aspects of:

i) Philosophy or Theology

ii) Health Law or Public Policy

iii) Medicine

iv) Nursing

v) Other health professions

vi) Social sciences or humanities

vii) Research ethics or health-related research.

(d) Strive to have membership from the following regions: Western, Central, Eastern, Atlantic, and Northern.

2.8 In the event that a Board member cannot complete the normal term of office, the Board may invoke appropriate emergency mechanisms to preserve its integrity and functioning. The Board shall communicate the required mechanism and the results of its implementation to the general membership in an expedient manner, and provide for nomination and renewal of said Board position at the next Annual General meeting.


Article 3: Dues


3.1 Society dues will be assessed by the Board and any changes will be approved by the Members.


Article 4: Committees

4.1 A Nominating Committee shall be appointed annually by the Board not later than January of each year. The Nominating Committee shall be chaired by the immediate Past-President or the President-Elect and consist of four additional members, chosen so as to represent all five regions of the Society. Of the latter regional representatives, two shall not be current members of the Board.  The Committee should include at least one clinical professional (e.g. a physician or nurse) and at least one non-clinical professional (e.g. a theologian, philosopher or lawyer).


4.2 The Board may, at its discretion strike a finance committee to address management of investments, a shift in financial priorities, or a shift in Society activities with significant financial impact.


4.3 The Board may, at its discretion, strike additional committees from time to time that are in the Society’s interest, composed of members from the Board itself and/or from the Society.


Article 5: Meetings


5.1 The Society shall hold at least one meeting annually, at a time and place to be decided by the Board. The Board shall rotate the meeting site to give appropriate consideration to the five geographical regions.

1.    Western - British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba

2.    Central - Ontario

3.    Eastern - Quebec

4.    Atlantic - New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland

5.    Northern - Northwest Territories, Yukon Territory and Nunavut


​5.2 Notification of any Business meeting must be sent in writing to all Society members at least two months in advance.


5.3 At each Annual Meeting of the Society, a Business Meeting shall be held.  At the Annual Business Meeting, the reports of the Committees of the Society shall be presented for information of the membership, and where necessary, for approval. The election or ratification of the new Members of the Board shall be held at the Annual Business Meeting.  Election to the Board shall require a majority of the votes of the total number of active members present and voting and of active members who submitted mail-ballot votes, where the latter practice is in accordance with the Society’s policies governing mail-ballot voting.  The quorum for the Annual Business Meeting of the Society shall be twenty active members.


Article 6: Amendments


6.1 The Constitution and the By-Laws may be amended by a majority of two-thirds of those members present at an Annual Business Meeting of the Society.


6.2 Amendments to the Constitution or By-Laws must be proposed in writing to the Board by three active members.


6.3 Proposed amendments to the Constitution and By-Laws of the Society must be sent in writing to all members at least two months before the Annual Meeting at which the proposed amendments are to be considered and act upon.