Inquiries and Inquests
The provincial and federal governments have the power to convene public inquiries to investigate and examine matters that implicate public policy or public concern. Throughout Canada, various commissions have been established to conduct such inquiries and make reports and/or recommendations to address the concerns raised in the inquiry and inform public policy making.
Coroner’s inquests are often called to investigate deaths at hospitals or other health care institutions. Under the Coroner’s Act the Coroner’s jury is charged with answering five questions relating to the circumstances surrounding the death, and may also make recommendations the prevent similar deaths in the future. Health care professionals and other professionals are often called to testify in such proceedings in order to provide the context for the care received by the deceased. These proceedings can be highly publicised media events which may lead to adverse consequences for the professional in the realm of malpractice litigation and discipline proceedings.
Our approach is proactive. We seek to ensure that systemic issues currently affecting health care institutions are addressed throughout the proceedings and in the jury’s recommendations.
Our experience and services include:
- seeking standing for individuals and organizations who are affected by an inquiry's or inquest’s mandate;
- preparing clients to testify at inquiries and inquests;
- cross-examining witnesses at inquiries and inquests;
- finding and preparing expert witnesses to address systemic issues;
- preparing submissions and recommendations for the Coroner’s jury; and
- providing advice and if necessary representation on related criminal law, malpractice, disciplinary, and employment issues.
Our lawyers have represented clients in the following notable inquiries and inquests:
- Long-Term Care Home Public Inquiry, which was established in August 2017 to inquire into the events and circumstances surrounding the death of eight nursing home residents and injury to several others. The Firm represents the Ontario Nurses' Association.
- Inquest into the Death of: Nokolaos Mpelos, which looked into the death of a patient who was restrained in a psychiatric facility. Our lawyers acted for the Ontario Nurses' Association and persuaded the jury to make recommendations for staff training and education.
- Inquest into the Death of Jeffrey Baldwin, which addressed issues of child welfare in Ontario. Our lawyers represented the surviving siblings of Jeffrey Baldwin in Inquest addressing child welfare in Ontario.
- Inquest into the Deaths of Pedro Lopez and Ezelldine El-Roubie ("Casa Verde" Inquest), in which our Firm represented the Ontario Nurses' Association as a party with public interest standing. The Inquest addressing behavioural issues and resident safety in Long-Term Care facilities.