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The Fatality Inquiries Act
This is an unofficial archived version of The Fatality Inquiries Act
as enacted by SM 1987-88, c. 9 on July 17, 1987.
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R.S.M. 1987, c. F52

The Fatality Inquiries Act

HER MAJESTY, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba, enacts as follows:

Definitions.

1

In this Act

"administrator" means a person appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council as Administrator of The Fatality Inquiries Act for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this Act and regulations thereunder; ("administrateur")

"minister" means the member of the Executive Council charged with the administration of this Act. (" ministre")

Appointment of medical examiner.

2(1)

The Lieutenant Governor in Council may appoint

(a) one or more duly qualified medical practitioners to be medical examiners for the province or for any portion thereof: and

(b) a duly qualified medical examiner to be the chief medical examiner for the province.

Authority of chief medical examiner.

2(2)

The chief medical examiner shall supervise the work of the medical examiners and has all the rights and powers of medical examiners.

Appointment of medical examiner to act for chief medical examiner.

2(3)

The chief medical examiner or the administrator may appoint another medical examiner to act in the place of the chief medical examiner for any period during which the chief medical examiner by reason of illness, absence or other disability is unable to perform his duties as chief medical examiner.

Acting chief medical examiner on death of chief medical examiner.

2(4)

In the event of the death of the chief medical examiner, the administrator may appoint a medical examiner to act in the place of the chief medical examiner until a new chief medical examiner is appointed under subsection (1).

Supervision of medical examiners.

2(5)

Every medical examiner and the chief medical examiner shall be under the supervision of the administrator.

Oath of office and allegiance.

3

The administrator, the chief medical examiner and every medical examiner before entering upon the duties of his office shall take and subscribe an oath of office and an oath of allegiance.

Subsisting appointments.

4(1)

Every appointment of a duly qualified medical practitioner as a medical examiner made before the coming into force of this Act shall be deemed to be an appointment of that person as medical examiner and the appointment shall thereafter have effect accordingly.

Oaths of previous appointees.

4(2)

Every oath of office sworn by a medical examiner before the coming into force of this Act shall be deemed to be an oath of office as medical examiner in compliance with this Act and shall be construed and have effect accordingly.

Limitation on jurisdiction of medical examiner.

4(3)

A medical examiner shall not make any investigation into the circumstances of the death of a person on whom he has attended in his professional capacity as a duly qualified medical practitioner within 30 days immediately prior to the date of the death.

Jurisdiction.

5(1)

Unless otherwise directed by the minister, the administrator or the chief medical examiner, a medical examiner has jurisdiction, for the purposes of this Act, throughout the province.

Direction to investigate.

5(2)

The minister, the administrator or the chief medical examiner, may direct a medical examiner to make an investigation at any place in the province; in which case the jurisdiction of any other medical examiner is suspended with respect to the matter which forms the object of the investigation.

Investigation of sudden deaths.

6(1)

Where a medical examiner is informed of the presence of a dead body of any person within the province, and it appears that

(a) there is reasonable cause to suspect that the person died by violence, undue means, or culpable negligence or in an unexpected, or unexplained manner or suddenly of unknown cause; or

(b) the person died in a place or under circumstances requiring an inquest under any statute; or

(c) the cause of death is undetermined; or

(d) the person died in a correctional institution, gaol or prison or while he was an involuntary resident of any institution in the province;

he shall forthwith take charge of the body, inform the police, and make diligent inquiry respecting the cause and manner of the death of the person.

Examination of records by medical examiner.

6(2)

For the purpose of an investigation under subsection (1), a medical examiner is entitled to examine and extract information from any records or writings relating to the deceased, held or maintained by any person, and to make such copies therefrom as the medical examiner considers necessary for the purpose of the investigation.

Cases of natural death of involuntary patients.

6(3)

Notwithstanding subsection (1), where a medical examiner, after examining the medical records of the institution relating to the deceased or other examination, is satisfied that a person who was an involuntary resident in an institution, as that word is defined in The Mental Health Act, has died of natural causes, he may determine not to take charge of the body or inform the police or make an inquiry into the death of the person.

Cordoning of scene.

6(4)

A medical examiner may cordon off the scene or area where a person suffered injuries which led to the death of a person, for a period not exceeding 48 hours; except that the chief medical examiner or the administrator may extend the period within which the area may be cordoned off for a further period of not more than 12 days.

Removal of exhibits.

6(5)

A medical examiner may prohibit the removal of any exhibits without his permission, until his inquiry is completed.

Report of medical examiner.

6(6)

Immediately upon completing any inquiry under subsection (1) the medical examiner shall determine whether the circumstances are such that an inquest is advisable and shall report fully the result of his investigation to the minister and forward a copy of the report to the chief medical examiner.

Release of body.

7(1)

Upon completion of his examination the medical examiner may release the body for burial or other disposition; but in that case he shall sign and deliver to the undertaker, or other person charged with the registration of the death, a medical certificate in the form prescribed under The Vital Statistics Act, setting forth the name of the deceased and the date of death as far as known.

Completion of certificate.

7(2)

Where a medical examiner has made the certificate of death required under subsection (1), for the purpose of permitting the burial of the body and it is incomplete, he shall after the termination of his investigation or of the inquest send to the district registrar appointed under The Vital Statistics Act a supplemental certificate giving the facts as found.

Post-mortem examination.

8(1)

If, as a result of an inquiry under section 6, a medical examiner is of the opinion that a post-mortem examination is necessary, he may, direct that it be performed by another duly qualified medical practitioner, or if authorized by the chief medical examiner, perform the examination himself.

Certain doctors not to take part in postmortem.

8(2)

Where a medical examiner has reason to believe that the death was directly or indirectly caused by the improper or negligent treatment of a duly qualified medical practitioner or other person, that duly qualified medical practitioner or other person shall not be allowed to perform or assist at the post-mortem examination.

Report on post-mortem examination.

8(3)

A statement as to the necessity for a post-mortem examination together with a statement of the finding on such examination shall be included in the report to the minister required under section 6.

Minister may order post-mortem.

8(4)

The minister may direct a post-mortem examination to be made in any case where he deems it advisable.

Excision of parts of body.

8(5)

Where under this or any other Act of the Legislature, any person is authorized to perform a post-mortem examination, he may, for the purposes of the post-mortem examination, excise or remove any part of the body for scientific or laboratory examination.

Administrator to review reports.

9(1)

The administrator shall review all reports submitted pursuant to section 6 and determine, in consultation with the chief medical examiner, whether an inquest should be held.

Recommendation to government and other persons.

9(2)

The administrator may make any recommendation to the appropriate department of government or to any person where, in his opinion, the recommendation, if implemented, may serve to prevent deaths by accident or otherwise.

Administrator to direct inquest.

9(3)

Where a report submitted under section 6 indicates that there is reasonable cause to suspect

(a) that a person who died in a correctional institution, gaol or prison or while he was an involuntary resident of any institution in the province, died by violence, undue means or culpable negligence or in an unexpected or unexplained manner or suddenly of unknown cause; or

(b) that a person died by reason of some act of a peace officer performed in the course of his duties as a peace officer;

the administrator shall direct that an inquest be held respecting the death of the person.

Where two or more deaths in same incident.

10

Where by the same incident the lives of two or more persons are lost it is not necessary for the medical examiner to make an inquiry and report respecting the cause of death of each person separately, but he may make one report upon the cause of death of all the persons.

Removal of body to morgue.

11

Where a place has been provided by a sanitary, health, or municipal authority for the reception of dead bodies during the time required to conduct a post-mortem examination, the medical examiner may order the removal of a dead body to and from that place for carrying out the examination; and the cost of the removal shall be deemed to be part of the expenses incurred in the examination.

Investigation where injury likely to cause death.

12

Where any person is injured and death is deemed likely to ensue, a medical examiner may immediately proceed to investigate the matter and obtain such statements from witnesses and the injured person himself, if possible, as the medical examiner may consider necessary or advisable.

Inquest on request of minister.

13

Notwithstanding that the medical examiner has failed to state in his report that in his opinion an inquest is advisable respecting the death of any person or has stated his opinion that an inquest is not advisable, the minister may direct that an inquest be held notwithstanding any recommendation or determination to the contrary.

Provincial judge to hold inquest.

14

Where it is required by statute or where the minister or the administrator determines or directs that an inquest should be held respecting the death of any person, a provincial judge shall hold an inquest respecting the death of that person.

Examination of witnesses by Crown counsel.

15

Any Crown attorney or other officer or any counsel appointed by the minister to act for the Crown may attend the inquest and may examine witnesses called at the inquest.

Examination of witnesses by other counsel.

16

Any person who, in the opinion of the provincial judge, is substantially and directly interested, may appear in person or by counsel and may examine and cross-examine witnesses; but the provincial judge may limit examination or cross-examination where it appears that it is vexatiously exercised or is beyond what is necessary for the purpose of the inquest.

Witness deemed to object to questions.

17

A witness at the inquest shall be conclusively deemed to have objected to answer every question put to him upon the ground that his answer may tend to criminate him or to establish his liability to a legal proceeding at the instance of the Crown or of any person.

Subpoena to witness.

18(1)

A provincial judge may issue subpoenas requiring the attendance of witnesses at an inquest.

Separation of witnesses.

18(2)

A provincial judge may direct that any witness shall be kept separate from another.

Application of Criminal Code.

18(3)

Sections 20 and 460 and Part XIX of the Criminal Code to the extent that they relate to a witness apply, with such modifications as the circumstances require, to proceedings under this Act.

Witness fees.

18(4)

A witness at an inquest shall be paid fees in accordance with the scale for witnesses in proceedings under The Summary Convictions Act.

Taking down the evidence.

18(5)

The evidence of witnesses examined at an inquest shall be taken in a manner provided in The Summary Convictions Act for taking the evidence of witnesses in proceedings under that Act.

Report of medical examiner as evidence.

19

The report of a medical examiner shall without further proof be evidence on an inquest; but a provincial judge may require the medical examiner to attend and give evidence at an inquest in which case the medical examiner is entitled to such fee for attendance as may be prescribed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council.

Duties of provincial judge at inquest.

20(1)

After hearing the testimony adduced at an inquest the provincial judge shall

(a) make a written report setting forth when, where and by what means the person deceased came to his death, the cause of his death, his name, if known, and all material circumstances attending the death;

(b) if it appears to him that the death resulted, in whole or in part, from the unlawful act or culpable negligence of any other person or persons, state the name or names of such person or persons, if known;

(c) file with the minister the report, together with the notes or transcript of evidence taken at the inquest, but if the depositions are taken in shorthand, it shall not be necessary to file these unless specifically requested by the minister or a Crown attorney;

(d) send a copy of the report to the medical examiner who examined the body of the deceased person: and

(e) make any recommendation to the appropriate department of government or to any person where, in his opinion, the recommendation, if implemented may prevent deaths by accident or otherwise.

Disposition of exhibits by provincial judge.

20(2)

A provincial judge may order exhibits tendered at an inquest to be disposed of in any manner that he deems appropriate.

Disposition of exhibits by administrator.

20(3)

All exhibits filed with the administrator may be disposed of by the administrator in any manner that he deems appropriate.

Exemption from liability.

20(4)

No action shall be brought against a provincial judge or the administrator either in their official or personal capacity for the disposition of any exhibits under subsection (2) or (3).

Effect of criminal proceedings on inquest.

21(1)

If, before the commencement or completion of an inquest, a provincial judge is aware that a criminal charge has been preferred arising from or related to the death, he may postpone or adjourn the inquest pending the determination or hearing of the criminal charge.

After criminal proceedings completed.

21(2)

Upon the determination or hearing of the criminal charge, the provincial judge may proceed with the inquest or, if he is satisfied that the circumstances of the death have been adequately examined, he may file his report to that effect with the minister, making reference to the proceedings on the criminal charge.

Limitation on further jurisdiction of inquiring provincial judge.

21(3)

A provincial judge who has held an inquest or part of an inquest in respect of the death of any person shall not preside at the trial of any person who is charged with an offence arising out of that death, or at a preliminary inquiry into any offence arising out of that death.

Continuation of inquest by another provincial judge.

21(4)

Where an inquest is commenced by a provincial judge who dies or resigns his office before the completion of the inquest, or who for any other reason is unable to complete the inquest, the minister may direct another provincial judge to complete the inquest or to conduct a new inquest.

Report deemed to be submitted.

22

Where under this Act any person is required to submit a report to the minister that person shall be deemed to have complied with the Act if he submits the report to the administrator.

Removal of body without order.

23(1)

In case of sudden death from any cause, no person shall remove, or cause to be removed, the body of a deceased person from the place where it is at the time of death until a medical examiner or police constable or police officer has given his order permitting the removal, or prepare the body for burial, or bury it, or cause it to be buried, until a medical examiner has given his order permitting the burial.

Penalty.

23(2)

Every person who violates the provisions of subsection (1) is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine of not more than $1,000.

Right of entry.

24(1)

A medical examiner acting in the course or scope of duty may enter upon any premises which the medical examiner believes, on reasonable and probable grounds, contains a dead body which is, or may be, the subject of an inquiry under this Act, and may examine the body or remove it for purposes of this Act.

Warrant to remove body.

24(2)

A justice who is satisfied by information upon oath that

(a) there are reasonable and probable grounds to believe that premises contain a dead body which is, or may be, the subject of an inquiry under this Act; and

(b) any person who owns or occupies the premises is refusing to give a medical examiner access to the body, or is refusing to allow, the body to be removed;

may at any time issue a warrant authorizing a medical examiner, together with any peace officer on whom the medical examiner calls for assistance and such other persons as may be named in the warrant, to enter upon the premises and to examine or remove the body for purposes of this Act.

Obstruction of medical examiner.

24(3)

Every person who prevents or obstructs a medical examiner from obtaining full and convenient access to or removing a body is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $500. and, in default of payment, to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 30 days.

Conduct deemed to be obstruction.

24(4)

Any person who intimidates or attempts to intimidate a medical examiner in the performance of his duties under this Act

(a) by threats of violence or other injury to the medical examiner; or

(b) by threats of violence or other injury to any relative of the medical examiner; or

(c) by threats of destruction or damage to the property of the medical examiner or the property of any of the relatives of the medical examiner;

shall for the purpose of subsection (3), be deemed to have obstructed a medical examiner.

Order for disinterment by minister.

25

Where in the opinion of the minister, it is necessary for the due administration of justice that a post-mortem or other examination be made of a body that has been interred, he may order that it be disinterred for that purpose; and he may make such other order as he may deem necessary respecting the examination of the body or its reinterment.

Duties of police.

26

A police constable or a police officer shall notify a medical examiner of every case of death requiring examination by a medical examiner under this Act, and furnish him all police assistance that he requires in the discharge of his duties, and generally aid and assist him in the performance of his duties under this Act.

Report without view of body.

27(1)

Where a medical examiner is satisfied that the death of a person has occurred, but either from the nature of the event causing the death or for any other reason, neither the body nor any part thereof which the medical examiner can view can be found or recovered, he shall make diligent inquiry respecting the cause and manner of the death of the person and he shall report fully the result of his investigation to the minister and forward a copy of the report to the chief medical examiner.

Minister may order inquest.

27(2)

The minister may order a provincial judge to hold an inquest respecting the death of the person without any view of the body in the same manner and in all other respects as other inquests are held under this Act.

Property of deceased.

28

When a medical examiner makes an investigation under this Act he shall take charge of any money and other personal property found on or near the body of the deceased person and shall deliver it, together with any exhibits that he considers should be retained, with an inventory of the property to a representative of the police force in charge in that area to be delivered to the person or persons entitled to its custody or possession or to be dealt with in accordance with the instructions of the minister or the administrator: and for the purposes of protecting and preserving exhibits, money and other personal property, the medical examiner may order any premises or portion thereof where the exhibit, money and other personal property are located to be secured and padlocked as may be necessary.

Keeping of records.

29(1)

The administrator shall keep a record of all investigations made under this Act, and the record shall inter alia, contain a copy of the medical examiner's report, a copy of the postmortem report, if any, a full description of the deceased person and a list of all property, documents and clothing found upon the body of the deceased person.

Obtaining copy of record.

29(2)

Upon payment of the fee prescribed by the regulations, any person may obtain a copy of the record containing the medical examiner's report, the post-mortem report, if any, the list of all property, documents and clothing found upon the body of a deceased person and the full description of the deceased person whose death has been the subject of an investigation under this Act.

Report by administrator.

30

Within three months after the end of each year, the administrator shall submit a written report to the minister setting out with respect to each person who, during the year, died in a correctional institution, jail or prison in the province or while he was an involuntary resident of an institution, as that word is defined in The Mental Health Act,

(a) the name and location of the correctional institution, jail or prison in which he died or the institution of which he was an involuntary resident when he died;

(b) the cause to which the death was attributed; and

(c) whether or not an inquest was held under this Act respecting the death;

but without mentioning the name of the person and the minister shall, within 15 days of receiving the report, table the report in the Assembly if the Legislature is then in session and, if the Legislature is not then in session, table the report in the Assembly within 15 days of the beginning of the next session of the Legislature.

Regulations.

31

For the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this Act according to their intent, the Lieutenant Governor in Council may make such regulations and orders as are ancillary thereto and are not inconsistent therewith; and every regulation or order made under, and in accordance with the authority granted by, this section has the force of law; and, without restricting the generality of the foregoing, the Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations and orders

(a) prescribing forms and the contents thereof to be used under this Act;

(b) prescribing fees and allowances to be paid to medical examiners, to the chief medical examiner and to persons performing postmortem examinations;

(c) prescribing fees to be paid for transportation and ambulance services;

(d) prescribing fees to be paid for funeral services including the cost of caskets, receptacles, clothing and incidental services;

(e) prescribing the fees to be paid for pathologists services, including microscopic and toxicological examinations;

(f) prescribing the fees to be paid for hospital and morgue facilities;

(g) prescribing the fees payable for copies from the records of the administrator of the medical examiner's reports or copies of post mortem examination reports; and

(h) generally for the purpose of carrying into effect this Act.