What is the coroner's role?
The coroner is a medical doctor who is responsible for investigating sudden or suspicious deaths or cases where the cause of death is unknown. The chief coroner is responsible for overseeing death investigations in the province under the Coroners Act.
The duties and responsibilities of coroners are set out in the Coroner’s Act and include the following:
- Provide independent and impartial investigations into, and inquests respecting, the circumstances surrounding unexpected, unnatural or unexplained deaths.
- Determine the identity of a deceased person and how, when, where and by what means that person died.
- Uncover dangerous practices or conditions that may lead to death.
- Educate the public with respect to dangerous practices and conditions.
- Publicize and maintain records of, and the circumstances surrounding, causes of death.
The Coroners Act also outlines the death investigation process which includes three main components:
- Reportable deaths to a coroner or police officer;
- Death investigation with or without a warrant; and
- Inquest into death and jury process.
When are death certificates issued?
In cases where the coroner is satisfied after the initial investigation, the death certificate is signed and the body is released to a funeral director for burial. Sometimes the coroner will order an autopsy to provide more information about the cause of death. Following the autopsy, the body will be released for burial.
What is an inquest?
If the coroner has more questions about how a death happened, or if some aspects of how the death occurred should be made public, the coroner may order an inquest. An inquest is a formal process involving witnesses and a jury. The jury will come to a verdict and may make recommendations to prevent similar deaths from happening in future.
How can I contact a coroner?
Contact the Public Safety Division by calling (902) 620-3632 or by email at email@example.com