Terms of reference

Article I: Preamble
  1. The Committee is a statutory committee which derives its authority under s. 17 of the Animals for Research Act, R.S.O. 1990, Chapter c. A.22 and from the Administrative Committee of the University. It operates under the authority of the Vice-President (Research).

  2. The ethical principles guiding the Committee (Article II) accord with the Standards and the Act and shall be reviewed from time to time whenever new recommendations on ethics of animal use in research and teaching are forthcoming from the Canadian Council on Animal Care, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), or from such other relevant statutory agencies as the Canadian Institutes for  Health Research or the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

  3. The procedural duties of the Committee (Article III) accord with the Standards and the Act and and shall be reviewed from time to time whenever new procedural obligations are identified by the Canadian Council on Animal Care, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs or other relevant agencies including statutory agencies.

  4. The Committee's jurisdiction encompasses all research, teaching and collection procedures involving the use of animals at the University of Ottawa and its affiliated institutions. This extends to animals obtained from or studied in the field by University and its personnel.

Article II: Ethical Principles
  1. The following ethical principles concerning the scientific use of animals are a restatement of those articulated by the Canadian Council on Animal Care in the Standards and supplementary documentation and policies. These principles shall guide the Committee in its decisions concerning all research and teaching protocols and in its recommendation or implementation of policy within the University:

    1. The use of animals in research and teaching is acceptable only if it promises to contribute to understanding of fundamental or applied biological principles, and to the development of knowledge that can reasonably be expected to benefit humans or animals.

    2. Animals should be used only if the researcher's best efforts to find an alternative have failed. A continuing sharing of knowledge, review of the literature, and adherence to the Russell-Burch "Three R" tenets of "Replacement, Reduction and Refinement" are also requisites. Those using animals should employ the most humane methods on the smallest number of appropriate animals required to obtain valid information.

    3. If animals must be used, they should be maintained in a manner that provides for their physical comfort and psychological well-being, where species-specific needs and vulnerabilities are taken fully into account.

    4. Animals must not be subjected to unnecessary pain or distress. The experimental design must offer them every practicable safeguard, whether in research, or in teaching procedures. Cost and convenience must not take precedence over an animal's physical and mental well-being.

    5. Expert opinion must attest to the potential scientific value of studies with animals if it is to be considered justified. Expert opinion is determined by external peer review or internal review which must include impartial third party review. Such a review meets the threshold test for a submission to move to ethical review. The request for review is directed to the research office of the responsible Faculty or alternatively, the Faculty of Medicine. The results of the scientific review will be forwarded in confidence to the Animal Care Committee for consideration on ethical deliberations. The following procedures, which are restricted, require independent, external evaluation to justify their use:

      1. burns, freezing injuries, fractures, and other types of trauma investigation in anesthetized animals, concomitant to which must be acceptable veterinary practices for the relief of pain, including adequate analgesia during the recovery period;

      2. staged encounters between predators and prey or between con-specifics where prolonged fighting and injury are probable.

    6. If pain or distress are necessary concomitants to the study, these must be minimized both in intensity and duration. The Committee must be especially cautious in evaluating the proposed use of the following procedures:

      1. experiments involving withholding pre- and post-operative pain-relieving medication;

      2. paralyzing and immobilizing experiments where there is no reduction in the sensation of pain;

      3. electric shock as negative reinforcement;

      4. extreme environmental conditions such as low or high temperatures, high humidity, modified atmospheres, etc., or sudden changes therein;

      5. experiments studying stress and/or pain;

      6. experiments requiring withholding of food and/or water for periods incompatible with species-specific physiological needs; such experiments should have no detrimental effect on the health of the animal;

      7. injection of Freund's Complete Adjuvant.

    7. An animal observed to be experiencing severe, pain or discomfort which cannot be alleviated should immediately be humanely killed, using a method involving rapid initial induction of unconsciousness.

    8. While non-recovery procedures involving anesthetized animals, and studies involving no pain or distress, are considered ethically acceptable, the following experimental procedures inflict excessive pain or distress and are thus unacceptable:

      1. utilization of muscle relaxants or paralytics (curare and curare-like) alone, without anesthetics, during surgical procedures;

      2. traumatizing procedures involving crushing, burning, striking or beating unanesthetized animals.

    9. Pursuits such as toxicological and biological testing, cancer research and infectious disease investigation may, in the past, have required continuation until the death of the animals involved. However, in the face of distinct signs that such processes are causing irreversible pain or distress, alternative endpoints should be sought to satisfy both the requirements of the study and the needs of the animals (see the Canadian Council on Animal Care Guidelines On: Choosing an Appropriate Endpoint in Experiments Using Animals for Research, Teaching and Testing).

    10. Physical restraint should be used only after alternative procedures have been fully considered and found inadequate. Restrained animals must receive exceptional care and attention, in compliance with species-specific and general requirements as set forth in the Canadian Council on Animal Care's Standards.

    11. Painful experiments or multiple invasive procedures on an animal(s), conducted solely for the instruction of students in the classroom, or for the demonstration of established scientific knowledge, cannot be justified. Audiovisual or other alternative technique should be employed to convey such information.

Article III: Procedural Duties


  1. The Committee shall meet at least twice a year and as often as necessary to fulfill its Terms of Reference and to be satisfied that all animal use is in conformity with institutional and provincial regulations and Canadian Council on Animal Care Standards. All meetings will be minuted and ancillary documentation will be entered on file as directed by the Committee.
  2. The Committee shall require that all persons who hold an academic appointment at the University or Ottawa and who are planning to use animals in research or teaching submit to the Committee, in advance of undertaking such work, a written proposal in which the use to which the animals will be put is thoroughly described. Each protocol description will include
    1. a project title and descriptive keywords or brief protocol description (abstract) (Schedule I);

    2. an outline of the prospective benefit to be derived from the research;

    3. a list of the principal researcher/teacher and all persons who will work with or handle the animals or their tissues;

    4. the department under whose auspices the research will be conducted;

    5. the proposed start and end dates for the project;

    6. the funding source and status of funding approval and the scientific merit of the proposed work;

    7. a course number and an indication of the pedagogical merit;

    8. a lay summary;

    9. an indication of the use of biohazardous, infectious, biological, or chemical or radioactive agents in living animals; and if so, an indication of institutional approval of this use;

    10. categories of invasiveness as defined in the Standards and categories of risk as defined by the University (Schedule II);

    11. an indication of whether the study is acute or chronic;

    12. species and numbers of animals to be used and justification for such use;

    13. a description of possible replacement, refinement or reduction alternatives and justification if these are not to be employed, or a description of the applicant's efforts to find such alternatives;

    14. the anticipated levels of pain and degrees of invasiveness that will be experienced by the animals;

    15. anesthesia and analgesia, including dosages and methods of use; justification for not using anesthesia or analgesia, if relevant;

    16. a description detailing the procedures that are to be carried out on the animals;

    17. a description of the endpoint(s) of the experiment or teaching exercise;

    18. a description of capture, restraint, transportation and/or housing of animals used in field studies, as well as any other information pertinent to field studies, such as capture of non-target species and potential injuries or mortality during capture or transportation, if relevant;

    19. the method of euthanasia, if used; justification for any physical euthanasia methods, or for any methods that deviate from those described in the Standards, the Act or the American Veterinary Medical Association Panel on Euthanasia;

    20. a description of how the animals will be disposed of if they are not to be euthanized;

    21. any other information considered important or necessary and pertinent, including information on results derived from any relevant previous protocols.

  3. The submission will be reviewed by the Committee and projects satisfying the ethical (see Article II) and statutory norms for the conduct of the work will receive Committee approval. Approvals may include such terms and conditions as are necessary to bring the proposed work within such norms. Only upon receipt of notice of approval may the animals be acquired and the work initiated.
  4. Where a standard operating procedure must be developed to satisfactorily address all of the issues of concern to the Committee and wherein endpoints are defined, animals will be removed from study when the humane endpoints have been reached. Any doubts as to whether the animals have reached endpoint will be resolved in favor of the animals.
  5. Where in the opinion of the Committee a procedure is in violation of the guiding ethical or statutory principles, or the conditions imposed on a researcher for compliance with such norms, the Committee shall cause the objectionable procedure to be terminated and direct that animals be treated or euthanized by the University Veterinarian. In such a case, the Committee may further direct that approval for a protocol be suspended or revoked.
  6. The Committee coordinates and review standards, activities and procedures relating to the care and use of animals; the facilities available for their care and housing; procedures for the prevention of unnecessary pain in animals including the use of anesthetics and analgesics, and the training and qualification of persons working with animals.
  7. The Committee or its agents may inspect at any time all localities wherein animals are held or thought to be held at the University and must inspect all Animal Care and Surgery Service facilities at least once a year.
  8. The Committee will regularly review its Terms of Reference to meet evolving standards for the care and use of laboratory animals at the University of Ottawa or its Institutes.
  9. The Committee will develop a crisis management program to deal with emergencies which may arise.
  10. The Committee will maintain liaison with the Canadian Council on Animal Care and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and comply with all reporting requirements.
  11. The Committee will fulfill its educational responsibilities by informing the University Community about the issues concerning the use of animals in research, teaching and testing and about steps taken by the University to address these issues.
  12. In matters of general policy and in keeping with its mission, the Committee will submit its recommendations to the Policy Committee of the University (Animal Care Management Committee), which is solely responsible for administrative policy determination and implementation.
  13. The Committee will submit an Annual Report to the Vice-President (Research).
Article IV: Animal Care Committee
  1. Composition of the Committee:
    1. Chairperson.
    2. University Veterinarian.
    3. One or more members, elected by Faculty Councils or appointed by administrative prerogative for a three-year term, from each of the user communities within the University jurisdiction except those which are already represented according to another clause of this Article:
      1. Faculty of Health Sciences 
      2. Faculty of Medicine:
        1. Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology
        2. Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
        3. Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
        4. Department of Surgery
        5. Other
      3. Faculty of Science;
        1. Department of Biology 
      4. Faculty of Social Sciences
        1. School of Psychology 
      5. University of Ottawa Heart Institute
      6. Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
      7. CHEO Research Institute 
    4. A non-animal-user from the University community, appointed by the Vice-President (Research).
    5. A member of the University's graduate-student or post-doctoral community, appointed by the Vice-President (Research);
    6. A member of the University's technical support staff, appointed by the Vice-President (Research). 
    7. A member from the Office of Risk Management, Environmental Health and Safety;
    8. At least two community representatives appointed by the Vice-President (Research).
    9. Up to two other members appointed by the Vice-President (Research). Research.
    10. Ex officio members or their designates: 
      1. Dean of the Faculty of Medicine; 
      2. Dean of the Faculty of Science; 
      3. Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences;
      4. Dean of the School of Graduate Studies; 
      5. Director of the School of Psychology; 
      6. Chief Executive Officer - Scientific Officer of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute; 
      7. Chief Executive Officer - Scientific Officer of the Ottawa Health Research Institute;
      8. Chief Executive Officer - Scientific Officer of the CHEO Research Institute 
    11. Ad Hoc Committee advisors may be appointed from: 
      1. Occupational Health, Leave and Disability; 
      2. Protection Services;
      3. Public Relations and Information Services. 
      4. Up to three members may be appointed from the ACVS from among its Veterinary and Operations Management personnel, one of whom is the Veterinary Officer.
  2. Voting Privileges 
    1. All duly appointed and elected members are assigned voting privileges. Ex officio and ad hoc members do not have voting privileges [see article IV(1)(k)] but otherwise participate fully in meetings. 
  3. Meetings
    1. Quorum is 50% plus 1 of voting members; 
    2. Decisions will be made by consensus. Where a matter cannot be resolved by consensus and where a vote would be appropriate in light of the issue before the Committee, a vote will be taken. The view of the simple majority will prevail. The Chair will cast the deciding vote in the event of a tie.  Committee minutes must incorporate the dissenting opinion(s): 
      1. Where the dissenting opinion is that of the University Veterinarian and the Committee's view is contrary to the Veterinarians' Act, R.S.O. 1990 as administered by the College of Veterinarians of Ontario, the decision taken by the Committee will not be deemed final. It will be referred to the Vice-President (Research), the College of Veterinarians and the Canadian Council on Animal Care for advice towards a final resolution of the issue by the Committee.
      2. All deliberations, discussions and decisions of the Committee are subject to the Collective Agreement of the Association of Professors of the University of Ottawa and the Agreement's Regulations governing confidentiality, conflict of interest and disclosure. These regulations will apply to all Committee members including those who are not bound by the Collective Agreement. 
      3. All deliberations, discussions and decisions of the Committee are confidential and may not be disclosed by a member to a third party or by a Member to an applicant to the Committee subject to the permission of the Chair. The formal process for the communication of the outcomes of Committee deliberation, which is through the Committee Secretariat, must be respected.
  4. Duties and obligations of Committee Members (Members)
    1. Members will attend meetings of the Committee. Where attendance is not possible, the Member will provide to the Committee Secretariat notice of absence. 
    2. Members will properly review and consider materials submitted for Committee review.
    3. Members will familiarize themselves with the Mission and criteria for the discharge of their Committee responsibilities. 
    4. Members may bring to bear, during deliberations, the perspective, interests and concerns of the discipline or constituency they represent, however they do not champion any particular perspective, interest or concern. Rather, they are Members whose primary obligations are to fulfill their Committee responsibilities in the context of its Terms of Reference, the University Policy 31 on animals used in research and teaching, the Standards, the Act and other applicable criteria which articulate or inform ethics review, deliberation and decision-making. 
    5. Members will demonstrate exemplary conduct in all matters concerning the care and use of laboratory animals and will lead by example. 
    6. Members will undertake to educate colleagues or constituents about the process of ethics review, the principles which inform ethics deliberation and decision-making and changes in practice, policy and values which may have a bearing on deliberations and decision-making.
Article V: Subcommittees
  1. The standing subcommittees of the Animal Care Committee are the Steering Committee hereinafter the "Protocol Review Group" and the Executive Committee. 
  2. Ad hoc subcommittees may, from time to time, be struck by the Committee for the execution of a particular finite task. Conditions for the expiry of ad hoc subcommittees will be specified by the Committee at the time the subcommittee is constituted. 
  3. Subcommittees operate under the jurisdictions of the Committee. All subcommittee members must be elected or approved by the Committee. 
  4. Standing subcommittees must report to the Committee at least once a year. Schedules of reporting for ad hoc subcommittees will be set by the Committee.
  5. The Chairperson of the Committee and the University Veterinarian are ex officio members of all subcommittees.
  6. Copies of all documents used by subcommittees are to be filed with the Committee Secretariat. Distribution of subcommittee documentation to Committee members or others will be by the Committee Secretariat.
Article VI: Protocol Review Group Subcommittee
    1. Membership in the Protocol Review Group is as follows:
      1. Animal Care Committee Chair;

      2. University Veterinarian;

      3. Community members appointed by the Vice-President (Research);

      4. At least five (5) other Committee members selected by the Committee so as to effect a broad representation of the user communities.
    2. The Protocol Review Group under the chairmanship of the Chair/delegate, reviews all submitted protocols on behalf of the Committee, and is empowered by the Committee to grant the approval of newly submitted protocols, amendments to and renewals of previously approved protocols and to receive notice of protocol terminations. Such approvals are subject to revocation upon reasonable grounds and at any time by the Committee with notice of the Committee's intention to do so to the researcher. 
    3. Where the Protocol Review Group is of the opinion that protocol approval should be refused, suspended or revoked due to an actual or contemplated breach of ethical principles (Article II), by act or omission, the Protocol Review Group will recommend such action to the Committee. Where the Committee has not yet had time to consider the Protocol Review Group recommendation, the Protocol Review Group is authorized to take such interim action as is necessary to protect the interests of the animals. This may include ordering that an experimental procedure be suspended pending the Committee's decision. Where the Protocol Review Group's recommendation to refuse, suspend or revoke a protocol is accepted by the Committee, the Protocol Review Group shall file a report outlining the grounds for its recommendation with the Vice-President (Research), with a copy sent to the appropriate Academic Administrator, whether a Dean of a Faculty or Director of a School or Institute. As refusals, suspensions and revocations are decisions of the Committee, and not of the Protocol Review Group, requests for reconsideration of the ethical merits of these decisions will be made to the Committee. There is no other mechanism for decisional reconsideration (the Act). 
    4. The Animal Care Committee will reconsider the ethical merits of a decision by:

      1. reconsidering the proposal de novo where a case can be made that there has been procedural unfairness;

      2. reconsidering an ethical decision of the Protocol Review Group where new and relevant information becomes available which, if available at the time the protocol was decided, may have affected the outcome of the Protocol Review Group’s ethical deliberation; or

      3. seeking an opinion on the matter being appealed from the Canadian Council on Animal Care or the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs or such other competent authority and taking such opinion into consideration in its deliberations. 

    5. The Protocol Review Group may withhold approval of a protocol pending re-submission as a consequence of incomplete information or because of a request to redesign the protocol so as to better reconcile animal welfare considerations with the needs of science. This does not constitute refusal, suspension or revocation, and is not subject to the procedural constraints outlined in (3) above. 

    6. The Protocol Review Group will ensure that unanticipated problems are reported to the Committee together with remedial actions, actual or proposed. A like-duty is imposed on researchers to report to the Committee unanticipated problems along with remedial actions, actual or proposed. 

    7. The Protocol Review Group will document the competency of any individual to work with laboratory animals. 

    8. Members of the Protocol Review Group or their delegates may enter any area where laboratory animals are kept or are thought to be kept. In the event that any animal may be in distress, the member of the Protocol Review Group or a designate is obligated to intervene in the best interests of the animals.

    9. The Protocol Review Group will meet monthly. 

    10. A meeting agenda and copies of protocols and other information necessary to properly deliberate on the ethical merits of the protocols will be distributed to Protocol Review Group members for review in advance of the meeting. 

    11. Members of the Committee who are not Protocol Review Group members may attend the monthly Protocol Review Group meetings but do not have Protocol Review Group voting privileges.
Article VII: Executive Committee
  1. The Executive Committee, hereinafter the "Executive" is composed of the Chairperson of the Committee or his/her delegate, the University Veterinarian or his or her delegate, a community member and one  other member appointed by the Committee. 
  2. The University Veterinarian or delegate(s) undertake a preliminary review of all submissions and consults with the applicants as necessary. 
  3. The Executive Committee may give interim approval to acute/non-survival protocols or protocols which involve acute, invasive procedures up to a level C, or standard immunization procedures, subject to final approval by the Protocol Review Group. The Executive Committee may exercise its discretion in the matter of Executive approval of chronic level C work where circumstances and the nature of the work so dictate and where there is unanimity among members of the Executive Committee. Otherwise, the matter must be referred to the Protocol Review Group for deliberation and decision. 
  4. If in the opinion of two of the members of the Executive, one of whom is the University Veterinarian or his or her delegate, there has been a violation of the ethical principles (Article II), the Executive is empowered to take such interim action as is in the best interests of the affected animals, pending review of the case by the Committee. Such action may include ordering the discontinuance of an experimental procedure and/or the humane destruction of an animal which is suffering irremediable distress. In the event of such action, the Executive will notify members of the Committee, the appropriate Dean or Director as well as the Vice-President (Research). 
  5. The Executive meets as frequently as necessary in order to carry out its duties.
Article VIII : Chair
  1. The Chair of the Committee is selected in accordance with the rules governing University committees and is appointed by the Administrative Committee of the University upon recommendation by the Vice-President (Research) for a term of three years, with the possibility of one renewal. 
  2. In the event of the Chair's absence or incapacity, either the Vice-Chair or another member of the Executive Committee will serve temporarily as Acting-Chair 
  3. The Chair/delegate, with the assistance of the Committee Secretariat is responsible for preparing the agenda and minutes of Committee and Subcommittee meetings and for distributing all materials to Committee members 
  4. The Chair determines and applies the Committee's administrative and procedural policies concerning the protocol application process. 
  5. The Chair is the public spokesperson for the Committee. 
  6. The Chair/delegate advises the Animal Care Management Committee and in particular the Vice-President (Research) in matters of Committee policy and informs the applicants in writing of Committee decisions concerning protocols. The Chair may delegate this activity to other members of the Executive or to the Committee Secretariat. Where a protocol has been refused by the Protocol Review Group, the Chair communicates this in writing to the applicant providing reasons for the refusal. Any applicant who is denied approval is invited to reapply to the Committee. 
  7. The Chairperson is responsible for directing the Committee's expenditures on its behalf. The Animal Care and Veterinary Service will provide the budgetary administrative support.

Approved June 15, 1999

Reviewed 2003

Reviewed and Revised 2015

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