Dave Unger BA, MSc (Bioethics), MD, CCFP(C), FCFP… that’s me.

I am a family doctor whose career has many dimensions. I have worked as an Emergency Room physician, and a community based family practitioner. I have worked in urban and rural settings, and have worked throughout Northern Canada. My practice has, at different times, focused on emergency medicine, obstetric and maternity care, and sports medicine. My clinical work is currently divided between outpatient family practice and working with persons living with HIV/AIDS and the care of the marginalized of Vancouver’s inner city. I am a Clinical Associate at the St. Paul’s Hospital HIV Service, and I am a Clinical Instructor through the UBC Department of Family Medicine. I completed a Master’s Degree in Bioethics at the Alden March Bioethics Institute through the Albany Medical School in New York. I am the Physician Ethicist for Providence Health Care and the ethicist for the Providence Health Care Research Ethics Board in Vancouver, BC. I am also currently the ethicist for the BC Centre for Disease Control.



For almost three years I have been compiling information on bioethics in Canada. This undertaking was in response to the conspicuous absence of such work in Canada. I am a clinician who has worked in ethically charged areas throughout my career. As I began a master’s degree in bioethics at an American university, I searched for a text which could supplement my learning in an American academic environment with information which had a Canadian focus and strictly Canadian content. My search was futile, and this project was born. This manuscript is a thorough examination and synthesis of pertinent Canadian contextual information in the field of bioethics.

There are many “Canadian” bioethics texts out there but they are largely “readers” or anthologies of seminal bioethics papers and other works (many of them American) that shed light on ethical theory that has relevance to Canadians. These are excellent books, but while they have bearing on Canada, they don’t give a full account of the information that a Canadian ethicist or health care worker needs in carrying out their work (the legislation, the codified ethics, the cultural and historical context etc.).

This manuscript covers many of the same topics found in texts that deal with biomedical ethics and research ethics. But it has a distinctive twist: this manuscript does not delve deeply into moral theory, nor does it rehash debates in the academic literature—it does not deal with the unknown, the undecided, or the theoretical. It is meant as a practical text; a text that reveals the important and relevant normative, legal, historical, and socio-political information for those studying or working in professions that demand an understanding of bioethics. The title is The Canadian Bioethics Companion, but I must be clear that it is not meant as an encyclopaedic companion as much as a companion to the many good books that are on the market.


Well, this project did not start out with this end in mind. It began as a master’s thesis and morphed into a textbook. But it was a textbook that would prove hard to publish in a conventional manner. As I have mentioned, it is a particular type of book, while the intended audience is broad, it is more of an ancillary or secondary reference. Those types of books are difficult to publish. And yet I have so much information that I would like to share.

Because I live in the digital age, I need not despair. I am not an academic so I need not depend on publications for my livelihood or tenure.  And I labour under no misapprehension that I will ever make a living from writing this kind of text— my “day job” keeps the wolf from the door— so I don’t have to depend on writing a best-seller. (Nonetheless, there is a limit to my time and my charity, your donations are surely appreciated… please visit the DONATE/BUY page!) Perhaps most importantly though, I do not have to rely on a peer review process and formal publication to give authenticity to this material.  I do not present any personal controversial opinions and I am not promoting any of my own theories or agendas. Everything I am saying has already been said and published by other authors, or it is posted in the public domain; for the most part this work is a compendium of existing literature and public domain data.

And now you, good reader, have the good fortune to share the fruits of this labour, and all the “pick and shovel” work that went into compiling this information, as it has now been transformed into this online presence.




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