Province Seeking Input on Death Investigation System
Proposed Changes Would Strengthen Accountability and Transparency
Ontario is inviting the public to provide input on proposed regulatory changes that would increase accountability and transparency in Ontario's death investigation system.
The province's Death Investigation Oversight Council -- the first body of its kind in Canada -- administers a public complaints process regarding death investigations to help grieving families, and also makes recommendations to the Chief Coroner, the Chief Forensic Pathologist and the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services on matters related to the province's death investigation system.
The province is proposing to expand the role of the Death Investigation Oversight Council to enable the council to provide advice and make recommendations to the Chief Coroner with respect to whether a discretionary inquest is called. While mandatory inquests are required by law for certain types of deaths, discretionary inquests are called by the Chief Coroner when it is believed there may be systemic issues that, when explored through an inquest, could advance public safety.
These proposed changes would increase accountability by providing a new lens on trends and issues of public interest, and enhance accountability in the system by allowing a broader range of perspectives when the Chief Coroner is determining whether a discretionary inquest should be called.
Improving public safety is part of the government's plan to build Ontario up. The four-part plan includes investing in people's talents and skills, making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario's history, creating a dynamic, innovative environment where business thrives, and building a secure retirement savings plan.
- In 2013, Ontario committed to expanding the Council’s role based on specific recommendations from the Council following a review and assessment of the death investigation system in 2011-12.
- The Office of the Chief Coroner investigates approximately 16,000 deaths per year across Ontario.
- Currently, approximately 6,000 of these cases require an autopsy, performed by a forensic pathologist.
- No changes are being proposed to the decision-making authority of the Chief Coroner. The legislative authority to direct a coroner to hold an inquest remains with the Chief Coroner.
- Details regarding the proposed regulatory change are posted on both the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services and Regulatory Registry websites. The public is invited to provide comments within the next 45 days.
“Expanding the advisory role of the Death Investigation Oversight Council is all about strengthening Ontario’s death investigation system. These changes would help identify broader trends and offer more perspectives to assist the Chief Coroner — further ensuring that families and all Ontarians are served by an effective, accountable and transparent death investigation system.”
“The Death Investigation Oversight Council is unique in Canada. We welcome an expansion of our role in providing advice to the Chief Coroner on whether to call a discretionary inquest, always keeping foremost in our minds the needs and concerns of the people of Ontario.”
The Honourable Joseph James
“Since the Death Investigation Oversight Council’s inception, it has proven to be a valuable resource for Ontario’s death investigation system. When considering discretionary inquests, which have the potential for significant impact on public safety, I believe it is fitting that the Council has the opportunity to provide input in the decision-making process.”