A fatality inquiry is a legal proceeding before a Provincial Court judge that helps clarify the circumstances of a death. They can also provide insight and recommendations to prevent similar deaths.

Before an inquiry is done:

  • the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General orders an inquiry – it can be ordered with or without a recommendation from the Fatality Review Board
  • all investigations and criminal charges, including appeals, must be completed

Responses to recommendations

In June 2017, the Alberta government started a public tracking system for responses to the judges’ recommendations in all fatality inquiries.

Learn more about the tracking system

Fatality Review Board

The Fatality Review Board reviews specific deaths across the province under the Fatality Inquiries Act. The board may recommend a fatality inquiry into someone’s death to help:

  • prevent similar deaths in the future
  • protect the public
  • clarify the circumstances surrounding the death

Learn more about the Fatality Review Board on the list of public agencies.

Deaths reviewed by the board

The Fatality Review Board reviews deaths when:

  • the cause or manner of death has not been established
  • a person dies:
    • in a correctional facility, institution, jail or on its premises
    • in the custody of a peace officer
    • from use of force by an on-duty peace officer
  • a patient, under the Mental Health Act, dies in a facility or on its premises – even if they weren’t in custody of that facility
  • the Chief Medical Examiner considers a review of the investigation to be necessary or desirable
  • a request to review the investigation is made to the board by one of the following:
    • medical examiner
    • any next of kin of the deceased
    • someone the Chief Medical Examiner considers to be an interested party
  • a child dies under the province’s guardianship or in its custody

The public can also request a fatality inquiry by contacting the board.

To request a fatality inquiry – for next of kin

If you’re a next of kin of the deceased and want to request a fatality inquiry, follow these steps:

Step 1. Write a letter

In your letter:

  • state that you request the Fatality Review Board to review a case
  • give reasonable grounds for the review

Step 2. Send the letter

Send your letter by mail to:

Attention: Chief Medical Examiner
Office of the Chief Medical Examiner
7007 116 Street NW
Edmonton, Alberta  T6H 5R8

After you send your letter

The Fatality Review Board will decide whether or not to recommend an inquiry.

To request a fatality inquiry – for interested parties

If you’re not a next of kin of the deceased and want to request a fatality inquiry, you must write to the Chief Medical Examiner to be considered an interested party.

Step 1. Write a letter

In your letter:

  • state that you request the Fatality Review Board to review a case
  • give reasonable grounds for the review

Step 2. Send the letter

Send your letter by mail to:

Attention: Chief Medical Examiner
Office of the Chief Medical Examiner
7007 116 Street NW
Edmonton, Alberta  T6H 5R8

After you send your letter

The Fatality Review Board will decide whether or not to recommend an inquiry.

Public proceedings

All fatality inquiries are held before a Provincial Court judge. Each inquiry is open to the public, unless the judge orders parts to be held private.

Inquiries only happen after the:

  • police and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner have completed their investigations
  • courts have resolved any related criminal charges including appeals
  • a pre-inquiry conference has been completed – these are also open to the public and media

Fatality inquiry schedules

See the list of fatality inquiry schedules. These schedules, which are updated almost every week, show:

  • completed fatality inquiries – waiting for report
  • current fatality inquiries
  • future fatality inquiries – dates to be scheduled
  • fatality inquiries waiting for completion of criminal proceedings

After an inquiry

After an inquiry is complete, the judge releases a report to the public and to the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General.

The report:

  • identifies the deceased
  • outlines the:
    • date
    • time
    • place
    • circumstances of death
  • may make recommendations about how to prevent similar deaths

Fatality inquiry reports can’t make any findings of legal responsibility.

Fatality inquiry reports

Present-1991
1991-present
Correctional facilities
Mental health patients
Peace officer-related
Child guardianship
Work-related

Responses to recommendations

After a judge makes a recommendation to the Alberta government, the government issues a response to the recommendation.

In June 2017, the government started a public tracking system for responses to recommendations.

This helps:

  • improve accountability
  • provide transparency
  • prevent similar deaths from happening

For each inquiry, the tracking system records the:

  • deceased’s name
  • cause and manner of death
  • judge’s recommendations
  • persons and organizations who were asked to respond to the recommendations and their responses, if any

Responses to public fatality inquiry recommendations (as of November 19, 2018)

Contact

To connect with the Fatality Inquiry office:

Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Phone: 780-422-4077
Toll free: 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)
Email: jennifer.fuchinsky@gov.ab.ca

Address:
Fatality Inquiry Coordinator
9th Floor, Peace Hills Trust Tower
10011 109 Street
Edmonton, Alberta  T5J 3S8