May 24th - 26th, 2017 | Hyatt Regency Montreal | Montreal, QC



Theme  |  Abstract Categories  |  Students  |  Guidelines


Falling Through the Cracks: Equity, Ethics and the Challenges of Vulnerability

Hosted by the Centre for Applied Ethics, McGill University Health Centre

The 2017 Annual Conference of the Canadian Bioethics Society will address the theme of intersecting vulnerabilities in all its complexity; from conceptual foundations to the need for practical responses. An important challenge for bioethics today is how to help individuals who are at risk of “falling through the cracks” especially when health and social service programmes targeting disenfranchised populations are struggling. Instances of such predicaments are illustrated in the following examples: (1) an elderly woman prematurely discharged from hospital who is put on a waiting list for homecare services that never materialize, (2) a patient with a mental illness and complex medical needs that no long term care facility will accept because his behaviour is considered “too difficult”, (3) a public policy that fails to account for the inequitably distributed impacts of climate change on northern communities.

For this year’s conference, we are interested in contributions exploring, among others, the following questions and issues:

Although vulnerability has been a core tenet since the inception of the discipline of bioethics, it has been argued that there is a lack of theoretical clarity surrounding the concept. How should vulnerability be defined? Is the concept out-dated? Who decides who is vulnerable? Is vulnerability an essential part of the human condition and if so, how do we decide who is deserving of special protections? Is vulnerability a stigmatizing concept, and/or does it overshadow inherent strengths?

Clinicians, researchers, policy makers, and bioethicists routinely confront practical challenges associated with the intersection of multiple vulnerabilities. What protections are owed to the more vulnerable members of society? What innovative strategies have been adopted to promote the rights and equitable treatment of people who may otherwise have “fallen through the cracks”? Are there unique vulnerabilities for care providers that have been overlooked or under-unappreciated?  Are current health care reforms addressing these issues?


Abstract Categories

Concurrent Sessions (May 24 to May 26)

30 minutes: (20 minutes + 10 minutes moderated discussion)

45 minutes: (30 minutes + 15 minutes moderated discussion)

60 minutes: (40 minutes + 20 minutes moderated discussion)

  • Based on the complexity of your subject matter, select the time frame that is most appropriate.
  • If you are using a PowerPoint or other type of presentation, you will be expected to provide a copy to the conference planners two weeks in advance.

1/2-Day Workshops (Morning [8:30 am - 12 pm] of May 24)

  • Presenters will facilitate a workshop involving discussion, audience engagement and/or group activities.
  • A workshop differs from an oral presentation in that the primary goal is to facilitate learning through participation and hands-on learning.
  • This format is well-suited for sessions designed to teach or introduce a particular skill.
  • If you are using a PowerPoint or other type of presentation, you will be expected to provide a copy to the conference planners two weeks in advance.
  • The abstract should include:
  1. the names and institutional affiliations of the workshop presenter and co-presenter(s);
  2. a brief description of the workshop’s general theme and purpose;
  3. a draft agenda; and
  4. the learning objectives for participants.

Poster Presentations (May 24 - May 26)

  • A poster presentation is a printed poster that provides a description of a project or program, its goals, methods and results.
  • An electronic version (in pdf format) of all posters will be featured on the official conference website and made available for public viewing and online conversation.
  • There will also be dedicated times during the conference for poster viewing. Presenters must make themselves available nearby their posters during these times in order to respond to participants’ questions.

Student Submissions


  • The abstract submission process for students is the same as for others. Please refer to the guidelines below.


  • Each year, the CBS holds an abstract competition for full-time students.
  • Only abstracts submitted in the concurrent session format will be considered for a student abstract award; the primary author must be a student to be eligible. A valid piece of identification will be required at conference registration.
  • In order to be considered for a student abstract award, please check yes to the corresponding question on the Abstract Submission Form. Your completed Abstract Submission Form will be forwarded to the Student Awards Committee of the Canadian Bioethics Society Executive.

Guidelines for Submission of Abstracts

General Instructions

  • Abstract submission lengths are as follows:
    • Pre-Conference Workshop Session: maximum 1,000 words
    • Poster Presentation: maximum 500 words
    • Concurrent Session: maximum 500 words
  • Abstracts may be submitted in French or English. Unless otherwise indicated, the language of submission will be assumed to be the language of presentation. However, in order to promote the bilingual character of the CBS, authors who are able to present in both languages are strongly encouraged to do so, either by adapting their Power Point presentation for both languages or by responding to questions in both official languages.
  • Note that simultaneous interpretation (SI) will be offered in the plenary session room only (not all concurrent sessions will have access to SI).
  • Unless otherwise noted, the applicant will be the main contact person. Additional authors and/or presenter(s) should be listed in the appropriate fields on the Abstract Submission Form.
  • Although there is no limit to the number of abstracts that an applicant may submit, to ensure broader participation, a maximum of two concurrent sessions for a single applicant will be selected.
  • It is advisable to draft and save your abstract in a word processing software program and then copy and paste the information into the online submission form.
  • Please review your abstract to ensure it is completely accurate. If it is chosen, it will be published as it was submitted.
  • Conflicts of interests (for example: grants, consultation, memberships in advisory boards, etc.) and financing sources must be disclosed for all presenters and/or authors at the time of submission and during the workshop, concurrent, or poster presentation.
  • Concurrent session and poster presenters must register for the conference and pay the associated fees.
  • On the abstract submission form, applicants will be asked to identify three relevant questions that a participant could pose after attending your workshop, poster presentation, or concurrent session. This information will be provided to the moderators of the sessions to guide discussion as needed and will also be included with the abstract in the on-line program booklet to enable participants to quickly understand the main issues of the presentation.

Evaluation Criteria

  • Abstracts that reflect the conference theme will receive priority in evaluation.
  • Abstracts will be reviewed by a national abstract committee established by the CBS Board.


  • All abstract applicants must identify one to two formats that best suit the general subject area of bioethics being addressed. This information will be used by the program committee to group presentations, where applicable.