Research Ethics Board – COVID-19 Information and Updates

Consult this page regularly for the most recent information and updates on REB processes and approvals during the publicly declared emergency due to COVID-19.

Page Sections: 

Permissible Research Activities for Clinical and Community Research Studies

While there are currently no restrictions on research activities, all research study personnel are encouraged to work from home whenever possible due to the rapidly increasing number of COVID-19 cases.

While we are hopeful that research will not need to ramp down during this wave, research teams are encouraged to review their ramp down plans and prepare for the possibility.

Essential Status
If your study requires essential or essential plus status and you have not requested it to date (either through CR3C, Research Leadership in March 2020, or the REB Checklist and Institutional Impact form that was launched in September 2021), please consult the research page on the Unity COVID microsite.

  • Essential status allows for research activities that maintain patient safety to continue in the event of a research pause (this could include necessary drug infusions, monitoring of patients on experimental treatments, etc). Essential plus recruitment status allows research activities that maintain patient safety AND recruitment to continue. Essential plus status is given to studies that offer a last resort treatment option to patients.

Planned Protocol Deviations During the Publicly Declared Emergency

About: Due to the surging COVID-19 cases the REB is once again accepting Planned Protocol Deviations. These are temporary measures to allow research to continue remotely/virtually while the study team prepares an REB amendment to their approved documents and processes to include options for virtual and/or reduced research activities. Following submission of a PPD, research teams will be expected to submit the corresponding amendment in a timely manner.

Process: The planned protocol deviation form consists of two parts.

  • Part 1 of the form is to be completed during the publicly declared emergency and submitted electronically to
  • Part 1 and 2 of the form must be submitted to the REB once the amendment to make permanent the changes outlined in the PPD has been approved.
  • The REO will review the submission of Part 1 in a timely manner. If we have any concerns about your planned deviation, we will outline these in a response email. If we have no concerns, you will be notified that Part 1 has been acknowledged and noted to file; we will not be approving Part 1 or any documents that are specific to the planned deviation

Submitting to the REB

The Research Ethics Office at 250 Yonge is not accepting hard copy submissions at this time. All submissions should sent to the REB Inbox (

  • Send only one form (with related attachments) per email
  • Include the REB number and submission type in the email subject line (e.g. REB xx-xxx – Amendment)

Investigator Signatures:

  • In lieu of a PI signature, all communications to the REB Inbox should be sent by the PI or by a research team member with the PI cc’d
  • The Co-Investigator signatures and attestations required on staff change forms and new submissions can be digital signatures or email confirmations provided to the Research Ethics Coordinator who is reviewing the submission

REB Approval of New Studies

COVID-19 Related Research:

  • The REB is prioritizing the review and approval of COVID-related research, and encourages researchers to contact the office to arrange a consultation

All other studies: 

  • Approvals for these studies are currently being issued; this is subject to change with the changing risk level of the COVID-19 publicly declared emergency.
  • Please be reminded that all clinical research studies are required to comply with the Unity Health’s guidelines related to on-site and in-person research. REB approval does not override any restrictions covered in those guidelines.