Features

COVID-19 response: OCME

  • Public access – No public access until further notice.
  • Family members – Before coming to the office, please call or email the OCME to arrange a meeting.
  • Vendors and suppliers – Limited access during office hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm Monday to Friday (closed on statutory holidays)

For more information about Alberta’s COVID-19 response, visit COVID-19 info for Albertans.

How the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) investigates sudden, unexpected or unexplained deaths in Alberta.

Death investigations

When a death occurs suddenly or it cannot be explained, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) conducts an investigation, under the authority of the Fatality Inquiries Act.

OCME investigates deaths to determine:

  • identity of the deceased
  • date and place of death
  • medical reason for death (why it occurred)
  • manner of death

The OCME investigates cases of people who die in Alberta:

  • from homicidal violence
  • from suicide
  • from an accident
  • unexpectedly when in apparent good health
  • when unattended by a physician
  • while in the care of the government (such as in mental health or correctional facilities)
  • in suspicious circumstances
  • from medical assistance in dying

We also inspect death certificates in all cases where:

  • burial permits are issued
  • cremation is applied for
  • a body is to be shipped out of province

Our investigations can range from a paper-based file review of medical records to a full autopsy. Autopsies are prioritized and the vast majority of bodies are examined within one working day of their arrival at the OCME. This is vital so the bodies can be released for burial or cremation.

OCME staff members work in:

  • toxicology
  • forensic pathology
  • investigations
  • records management
  • administration
  • the autopsy suite

Information bulletins

Information bulletins are intended for police and medical communities in Alberta.

Caseloads and staffing

The OCME investigates 20,000 deaths on average each year, which includes a combined total of more than 4,000 autopsies and external exams.

Golden Triangle Conference

The OCME's bi-annual Golden Triangle Conference alternates between Edmonton and Calgary in partnership with the Edmonton Police Service and the Calgary Police Service.

The conference provides training to:

  • death investigators and coroners
  • law enforcement personnel, including:
    • municipal police
    • the RCMP
    • military police

The 2020 conference has been postponed until May, 2021.

How we’re organized

The OCME employs:

  • a Chief Medical Examiner
  • Deputy Chief Medical Examiners
  • Assistant Chief Medical Examiners

The OCME performs an average of 4,000 post-mortem examinations - the physical review of deceased bodies - per year. They investigate nearly 20,000 deceased people each year.

Calgary and Edmonton offices

The OCME has offices in Calgary and Edmonton that each have 7 distinct, cross-functional working units:

  • Medical Examiner
  • Medical Investigator
  • Mortuary
  • Toxicology
  • Records
  • Administration

Medical Investigator Unit

The OCME’s Medical Investigator Unit is available 24/7/365. Medical investigators are often the first point of contact for the deceased’s relatives, friends and the deceased’s physician. These investigators interview them to determine if a death requires an investigation.

Fatality Review Board

The Fatality Review Board oversees the work conducted by the OCME. The board’s independent panel is made up of a:

  • lawyer
  • physician
  • lay person

They review OCME case work and may recommend a public fatality inquiry into someone’s death in order to:

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

Education, tours and presentations

The OCME helps teach and train medical personnel at the University of Calgary and University of Alberta. Education, tours and presentations include the following:

  • post-graduate training in forensic pathology
  • tours of the OCME for affiliated professional agencies
  • presentations to affiliated professional agencies and interest groups, including crime and medical conferences, and local school career days

For information about education or booking a tour or presentation, email ocme_admin@gov.ab.ca.

Publications

Contact information

Hours: 8:15 am - 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)

24/7/365 for death notifications and emergencies.

Calgary location

Phone: 403-297-8123
Fax: 403-297-3429
Email: ocme_admin@gov.ab.ca

Visit our office at:

Office of the Chief Medical Examiner
4070 Bowness Road NW
Calgary, Alberta T3B 3R7

Edmonton location

Phone: 780-427-4987
Fax: 780-422-1265
Email: ocme_admin@gov.ab.ca

Visit our office at:

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

Media requests

If you're a member of the media and want to speak with a media spokesperson or request statistics, call the Justice and Solicitor General media line at 780-644-3009.