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Strengthening Oversight of Coroners and Forensic Pathologists

Archived Backgrounder

Strengthening Oversight of Coroners and Forensic Pathologists

Ministry of the Solicitor General

The McGuinty government continues to deliver on its commitment to strengthen the province's oversight of coroners and forensic pathologists for greater accountability and transparency.

The Coroners Amendment Act The Coroners Amendment Act was passed on May 28, 2009 and is the first modernization of legislation governing the Office of the Chief Coroner in more than 30 years. The act addresses the recommended legislative amendments in the report by the Honourable Justice Stephen Goudge's Inquiry into Pediatric Forensic Pathology in Ontario by:

  • Ensuring a higher standard of oversight and accountability.
  • Delivering greater public accessibility and transparency.
  • Establishing a framework to advance and ensure the quality of the system.
All of the provisions of the Coroner's Amendment Act have now been proclaimed, including the establishment of an oversight council for the Ontario death investigation system. Death Investigation Oversight Council The Death Investigation Oversight Council is an independent advisory body appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council and made up of medical and legal professionals, senior health executives, government representatives and members of the public who collectively have the knowledge and expertise to provide quality oversight. The Honourable Joseph James will chair the Death Investigation Oversight Council. James is a retired judge with over 25 years experience in the Ontario Court of Justice and Superior Court of Justice. Members of the council are:
  • Hon. Joseph James, former member of the Ontario judiciary (Chair)
  • Dr. Andrew McCallum, Chief Coroner
  • Bill Shearing, Public Member
  • Dr. David Williams, Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health
  • Denise St-Jean, Public Member
  • Emily Musing, Executive Director, Pharmacy, Clinical Risk and Quality/Patient Safety Officer, University Health Network
  • Dr. Fiona Smaill, Professor and Chair, Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University
  • John Pearson, Counsel, Crown Law
  • Lidia M. Narozniak, Assistant Crown Attorney, Crown Law
  • Lori Marshall, Vice President, Patient Care, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre
  • Dr. Michael Pollanen, Chief Forensic Pathologist
Acting on Goudge The Death Investigation Oversight Council is the latest in a series of measures to strengthen Ontario's death investigation system, as recommended by the Goudge Inquiry. Other measures include establishing:
  • A Forensic Pathology Service to recognize the complex and important role forensic pathology plays in death investigations, and to ensure that role is now clearly defined.
  • A Pathologists Registry to ensure that all pathologists employed in post-mortem examination in the province of Ontario are duly qualified. Currently, there are 168 active pathologists on the register who have been credentialed by the Chief Forensic Pathologist.
  • A Forensic Services and Coroner's Complex that will bring together on one site the Office of the Chief Coroner, the Ontario Forensic Pathology Service and the Centre of Forensic Sciences, making collaboration between the units much easier. The Forensic Services and Coroner's Complex will accommodate increased capacity for autopsies and forensic science cases, and provide the state-of-the-art capabilities Ontario needs.

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