News release

Amendments to Fatality Investigations Act

The Province is making changes to ensure timely and thorough reviews are carried out in cases of unexpected death.

Bill 180, An Act to Amend the Fatality Investigations Act, comes into force today, October 27.

The amendments will establish both a Domestic Violence Review Committee and a Child Death Review Committee and enable other types of death review committees if needed in the future.

“The death of a loved one under any circumstances is hard,” said Justice Minister Brad Johns. “It is this government’s hope that the findings of these review committees will give the families some comfort and confidence in knowing the death of a loved one has been independently examined by experts.”

The Domestic Violence Death Review Committee will do trend analysis and in-depth reviews to better understand the circumstances of deaths due to domestic violence. The process is intended to promote a deeper understanding of the dynamics of domestic violence and improve prevention and intervention approaches.

The Child Death Review Committee will analyze deaths of those under the age of 25 to look at patterns, with the aim of preventing other fatalities. It will also conduct in-depth case reviews of the deaths of children under 19 in the care of the Province.

The overall goal of the committees will be to conduct multi-disciplinary, in-depth reviews and make recommendations to prevent similar deaths in the future.

Current mechanisms for reviewing the circumstances of a death and making public recommendations in Nova Scotia include a fatality inquiry, the Police Act, and the Public Inquiries Act.

Death review committees will be chaired by the province’s Chief Medical Examiner and will bring together experts from within and outside of government to examine the facts and circumstances.

Quotes:

Deaths are always tragic, but a death that was preventable is even more so. These committees will help us to learn the lessons that will prevent deaths in the future. It will be a privilege to begin this work. Dr. Matt Bowes, Chief Medical Examiner

Quick Facts:

  • the Department of Justice worked with staff from the Department of Community Services, the Department of Health and Wellness, the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women, and the Chief Medical Examiner to determine the content of the amendments and the regulations
  • committees will be chaired by the Chief Medical Examiner and membership will be comprised of government and non-government appointees, including medical professionals and representatives from community organizations, law enforcement, academia and government
  • a full report on the review of a death will be submitted to the Minister of Justice, and in the case of a child death review, the Minister will share the report with the department whose care the child was under
  • a public report will be produced annually from both committees, summarizing their work and analyzing data trends over time

Additional Resources:

The amended bill is available at: https://nslegislature.ca/legc/bills/63rd_2nd/3rd_read/b180.htm

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Media Contact:

Heather Fairbairn
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