Coroner’s inquest delays

Coroner’s inquest delays

June 8, 2010

8 June, 2010

The Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario sped up its process, improved its practices and addressed a backlog of cases after the Ombudsman launched an investigation in 2008 into complaints that mandatory inquests were not being held within a reasonable time frame.  Based on this result, the Ombudsman determined no further investigation was warranted, but continues to monitor the issue.

The Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario sped up its process, improved its practices and addressed a backlog of cases after the Ombudsman launched an investigation in 2008 into complaints that mandatory inquests were not being held within a reasonable time frame. Based on this result, the Ombudsman determined no further investigation was warranted, but continues to monitor the issue.

 

Case update - Annual report 2009-2010

In 2008, the Ombudsman began an investigation into complaints that mandatory inquests were not being held within a reasonable time frame. The Coroners Act specifies that an inquest must be held whenever a person dies while being detained in a correctional institution, in the custody of the police, or while working at a construction site or mine. SORT investigators gathered information from the Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario and the Ontario Provincial Police that revealed there were substantial delays. Because the Coroner’s Office acknowledged the problem and was working to address it, the Ombudsman suspended his investigation in March 2009.

The Coroner’s Office provided the Ombudsman’s Office with an update of its progress in September 2009. Based on that report, additional information from the Ontario Provincial Police, and a review of inquest case delays in 2009, the Ombudsman determined that no further investigation was warranted at this point, as measures were being put in place to speed up the process. These included addressing a backlog of cases with the Ontario Provincial Police through improved administrative and investigative practices. The overall number of cases was also reduced through amendments to the Coroner’s Act that made inquests discretionary rather than mandatory in cases where, for example, someone in jail dies of natural causes.

SORT staff continue to monitor the progress of the Coroner’s Office on this issue and will assess any additional complaints.