The 2017 Annual General Meeting of the Ontario Coroners Association was held at White Oaks Conference Resort and Spa in Niagara-On-The Lake Saturday May 6, 2017, followed by a full-day educational session.
The Educational Component began at 09:00. As the new president, I thanked Dr. Bonnie Burke for her two years as president and many more in earlier vice-president roles.
The first talk, by Professor Helene LeBlanc, discussed forensic entomology. She showed many examples of how her work could date death and even locate death. A very interesting talk.
The second talk, by Dr. Jane Turner, Chief of Forensic Medicine at Hamilton, was on the investigation of nonviolent infant death. She took us through many of the scenes and considerations in these investigations.
Our third talk, by Dr. John Fernandes, Head of Laboratory Services at Hamilton and ex-chief of Forensic Medicine, introduced the difficulties with investigation and beliefs around opioid deaths. Carfentanyl became a topic reviewed several times during the day. There are some varying opinions about its toxicity during scene investigations.
Dr. Dirk Huyer, Chief Coroner, talked during lunch. He reviewed the Opioid Form we’ve all been asked to complete. In addition, he addressed concerns that cremation payments would be taken by the OCC and reassured us that, under the current payment model, they would not. He said that there was still a desire to remove the Order-In-Council currently required for appointment as an investigating coroner and talked briefly about coroner reappointments and ongoing educational requirement proposals.
Our afternoon began with two police officers from Kingston, Sgt Geoffrey Demster and S/Sgt Chris Scott who went over a case of Honour Killings. Following this, Dr. Amin Muhammad, a psychiatrist, reviewed Honour Killings from various perspectives.
Following a coffee, we had vignettes by Dr. Robert Boyko (Fentanyl Deaths and personal protection for coroners), Dr. Robert Hiemstra (a sleuthing interpretation of scene to determine manner of death), and Dr. Robert Reddoch (talking about the perils involved in the difficulty between some investigations and the CPSO).
Following that Dr. Roger Skinner talked more about the ongoing development of standards for education and maintenance of competence for coroners. In addition, he talked about certification and how this was being evaluated.
At the end, I confirmed with those present that the full-day educational format was desired and would be continued next year. I also said that there was a Survey Monkey review coming to all coroners regarding the concept of CPTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) to try and see if this is an issue for investigating coroners. In addition, there will be another survey of what coroners want from this association.
After a delicious dinner meal Dan Trommater entertained us with a presentation of magic and motivation. That and the conversations in a social setting were very enjoyable.
I’ve summarized this to show the value of this annual course and the value of membership in the OCA.
There are changes afoot that will require a lot of input from the executive, changes that include payments, education and ongoing appointments. I am sending this partly to those coroners who have not renewed their membership as well need full membership if we are to represent all coroners.
Together we are stronger.
You may renew your membership by clicking here and following the link. There will be an effort, guided by Dr. Geoffrey Bond, our firstvice-president, to try and accomplish full membership.
As your new president, I look forward to representing you to the Office of the Chief Coroner. I will be much more able to do that with ongoing input and encourage that you contact me through the website of the OCA. There is a link that will get all correspondence to me.
Thank you for the honour I’ve received in being elected your president for the next two years. I hope I can help advance some issues in support of the investigating coroner.
Dr. Richard Porter
President, Ontario Coroners association