Streamlined Research Ethics

REB Qualification Program

CTO’s REB Qualification Program promotes a high level of trust by ensuring that research ethics boards (REBs) meet a minimum standard for clinical trials and observational health studies in Ontario and Canada. During the qualification process, CTO reviews the operations, documentation, personnel and facilities to ensure the REB meets the applicable regulations and standards. Obtaining CTO REB Qualification allows institutions and REBs to feel confident delegating ethics review and oversight to one other.

Group of CTO team members sitting around conference table at a meeting

Qualification Process

To become Qualified by CTO, an REB must successfully undertake and complete the qualification process. Undergoing the CTO REB Qualification is voluntary, however, any REB that intends to act as the REB of Record for a study using CTO Stream must be Qualified. There are no fees associated with the CTO REB Qualification Program, nor are there any fees associated with maintaining Qualification status. Upon Qualification, the REB leadership will be invited to join the CTO REB Council, which informs and advises on the ongoing development of CTO Stream.



REB uses the appropriate Qualification Checklist to review their Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).


Request Qualification

REB contacts CTO when they’re ready to begin the qualification process, generally 6-8 weeks prior to the desired on-site visit. Once a date has been agreed upon for the two-day on-site visit, CTO will develop a Site Visit Plan (SVP), which acts as the agenda for the visit. At least two weeks prior to the on-site visit, the REB must provide the completed preliminary materials, including copies of written Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and other supporting documents.


On-site Review

The on-site review consists of:

  • Entrance interview
  • Brief facilities tour (if applicable)
  • Submission of materials outlined in the Qualification Manual
  • Interviews with lead REB operations personnel & REB
  • Chair(s)/Vice-Chair(s)
  • Exit meeting & preliminary feedback


Report and REB Qualification

CTO will provide the REB Chair(s) and the REB contact person with a Qualification Report. If the Qualification Report does not contain any findings, the REB will be designated as a CTO Qualified REB. If findings are identified, the REB will have the opportunity to submit a Corrective Action Plan (CAP).


Duration & Re-Qualification

The Qualification will remain in effect for three years from the date of issuance, with Annual Reporting to document changes in REB membership or other substantive changes (e.g., procedures, oversight responsibilities). Approximately 6 months prior to the expiry of the REB’s Qualification status, CTO will contact the REB to schedule a Re-Qualification visit. The visit will occur prior to the qualification expiry date.

CTO Qualified REBs

Qualification Program Types

CTO REB Qualification Program

The CTO Research Ethics Board (REB) Qualification Program provides Ontario REBs that are planning to participate in the CTO Streamlined Research Ethics Review System, with a review of their operations, documentation, personnel, and facilities. The review is with respect to regulations, standards, and policies applicable to the conduct of clinical trials and health research in Ontario and Canada.

CTO OHR REB Qualification Program

The CTO Observational Health Research (OHR) Research Ethics Board (REB) Qualification Program is intended for Ontario REBs who are planning to participate in the CTO Streamlined Research Ethics Review System, that specifically review observational health and other non-regulated research. The CTO OHR REB Qualification process provides assurances that REBs meet a minimum standard for REB governance, membership, operations, and procedures.