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What you need to know about COVID-19: August 14, 2020
As a medical examiner, I deal with death every day. I speak with families and loved ones of those who have died in tragic and unexpected ways, often when their grief is still raw.
While each case – and each story – is different, some things are the same.
In the wake of tragedy, families want closure. They want answers. They want to know their loved one’s story will be heard by those in a position to make change.
I am privileged in my work to give a voice to those who can no longer speak. It’s my job to understand a person’s last moments, assign a cause and manner of death, and to share that information with families. Until now, that is where my work ended.
Recently, government passed amendments to the Fatality Investigations Act. These changes establish two important death review committees: one to focus on domestic violence, and the other on children who die in the care or custody of the province.
These expert committees serve two important roles. The first is to go beyond cause and manner of death, to gain a deeper understanding of what happened, how and why, and to make recommendations for change with a focus on prevention. The second is to look at all domestic violence deaths and all child deaths to identify gaps, trends and other insights that will help government – and the community – better support people who need it most.
While we’re starting this work with a focus on domestic violence and children in the care or custody of the province, it will not end there. The legislation now allows the minister to establish new committees through regulation.
I am confident, through this work, we will provide government and its partners with information that will lead to stronger policies, processes, programs and services in Nova Scotia.
Medical examiners give the dead a voice; death review committees give them a legacy – a legacy seen and felt for generations to come.
Dr. Matthew Bowes has been Nova Scotia’s chief medical examiner since 2006.