Opinion

Canada’s death investigation system needs an overhaul

5 Comments
  • M. Morels says:

    Actually many Coroners in BC do have formal medical training and are very qualified to do this work. In many cases more qualified than those churned out of med school, simply because they have life experience, people skills and investigative experience. Ever meet a doctor truly interested in solving anything for their patients? Good luck in the job market Multan!

    • Michael Multan says:

      Thank you for your response and clarification. It is true as you say that some coroners have some medical training (prior nurses, foreign trained physicians, family docs, paramedics, etc), but this is not true in all cases. Of course, a freshly graduated MD would not be qualified to do this work. There are pros and cons to various was of approaching death investigation. In Canada we have a public health care system which necessitates that we prioritize government funding for the living. But I think most people would agree that many of our provincial death investigation systems could be modernized, improved, and better staffed (i.e. more qualified investigators and pathologists). Thank you for the luck! :)

  • Franklin Warsh says:

    I think we should model our death investigation system on CBC’s Coroner. Have only one Coroner for a city of 6 million people, who investigates nothing but wacky murders, and ends up hooking up with unusually attractive witnesses who not only help the exhausted doctor battle mental illness, but are also handy around the house.

    In all seriousness, federal oversight of anything in Canada typically equates to federal overreach in the eyes of the provinces. The suggestion also presupposes that the federal government has the required expertise to build and coordinate a national death investigation system. Since, as the author points out, death investigation falls under provincial jurisdiction, one would assume that’s where all the expertise lies. It would probably make more sense to let bodies/conferences like the National Forum of Chief Coroners and Chief Medical Examiners develop the system model and best practice guidelines. Press each province to work towards the optimum from the ground up.

    • Michael Multan (Author) says:

      ” It would probably make more sense to let bodies/conferences like the National Forum of Chief Coroners and Chief Medical Examiners develop the system model and best practice guidelines. Press each province to work towards the optimum from the ground up.”

      This is an excellent point. I think what is alarming is how discrepant things are province to province – maybe even more so than in clinical medicine, which is certainly not “universal” either when you compare services available in rural communities compared to urban centers, and even between provinces. Most people don’t really understand the differences between the ME and Coroner’s system, and these differences are important and have serious implications when cases are mishandled.

  • Avery says:

    The death investigation system requires significant improvements in all provinces. Ontario should not be used as an example of course correction. The 2019 Annual Report from Ontario’s Auditor General identified serious deficiencies and a lack of oversight in Ontario’s Coroner and Forensic Pathology Service that threaten to undermine the recommendations made in the Goudge Report. Unproven but unrefuted allegations have been made in various media outlets that Hamilton’s forensic pathology service was forcibly closed as retaliation against whistleblowers.

Author

Michael Multan

Contributor

Dr. Michael Multan is an anatomical pathology resident at the University of British Columbia. 

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