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Amendments to Fatality Investigations Act

**** NS Justice Media Release

Amendments to Fatality Investigations Act

Nova Scotia will soon have more options for timely and thorough review of unexpected deaths.

Attorney General and Minister of Justice Mark Furey introduced amendments to the Fatality Investigations Act today, Oct. 8, to create two expert committees to review domestic violence deaths and deaths of children in the care or custody of the province.

“One intimate partner death, or death of a child in our care or custody, is one too many,” said Mr. Furey. “That is why it is essential to understand the factors that lead to these tragedies. The knowledge we gain from death review committees will be used to identify the gaps in our system so we can work with our partners – within and outside government – to prevent similar deaths in the future.”

The establishment of a Domestic Violence Death Review Committee is an important step forward in Nova Scotia’s ongoing efforts to address and prevent family violence and violence against women. It will review all homicides and homicide-suicides that result from violence between intimate partners or ex-partners. These reviews can also include the death of a child, other family member, or others that occur in relation to intimate partner violence.

The Child Death Review Committee will conduct multi-disciplinary reviews of unexpected deaths of children under 19 who have died in the care or custody of the province. This committee will also examine trends in deaths of all young people in the province under the age of 25 with a focus on prevention and public health.

Quotes:
“The death of a loved one is difficult no matter the circumstance, but it is particularly difficult knowing the tragedy could have been prevented. I have seen firsthand the impact of the work of committees like these – for families and communities searching for answers and for governments and service providers who want to do better.”
– Dr. Matthew Bowes, chief medical examiner

“The ability to have experts come together to review the circumstances of an unexpected death has been hugely impactful in other jurisdictions. We must take the time to learn everything we can from these tragic occurrences to try and create a safer and brighter future for the children and youth of Nova Scotia.”
– Dr. Amy Ornstein, medical director, Suspected Trauma and Abuse Response Team, IWK Health Centre

“Our research shows that in the 62 deaths that have occurred in Nova Scotia from 1990-2019, many were preventable. The prevalence of guns, recidivism in domestic violence cases and missed opportunities by police and service providers were all contributing factors. This committee’s work will prove valuable to those of us working in the field of domestic violence prevention.”
– Dolly Mosher, co-chair of Silent Witness Nova Scotia

Quick Facts:
— committees will be chaired by the chief medical examiner and may include community organizations, medical professionals, and representatives from law enforcement, academia and government
— the amendments allow government to create additional death review committees, as required, through regulation
— the domestic violence death review committee supports government’s work to address and prevent domestic violence through the Standing Together action plan
— the Child Death Review Committee addresses a call for justice in the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Final Report and a recommendation from the province’s ombudsman

Additional Resources:
Standing Together to Prevent Domestic Violence: https://novascotia.ca/standingtogether/

National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Final Report: https://www.mmiwg-ffada.ca/final-report/

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