Divisional Court Rules on Mandatory Inquests; Human Rights Commission, Family to Appeal

TORONTO – January 3, 2008 –  After reserving its decision for nearly six months, the Divisional Court of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has allowed the appeal of the Attorney General of Ontario from the decision of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario that the Coroners Act contravenes the Ontario Human Rights Code.  At issue was the inconsistent treatment between deaths occurring in police and correctional detention and those occurring in psychiatric detention in the Ontario Coroners Act, with only the former being the subject of mandatory inquests.

The decision of three-judge panel comprised of Justices John Jennings, Sidney Lederman and Katherine Swinton was released on December 18, 2007.  The Tribunal decision under appeal was rendered by retired Supreme Court of Canada judge the Honourable Peter Cory.  The Tribunal had ruled in favour of complainants Renata Braithwaite, who lost her mother, and Robert Illingworth, who lost his brother, in fatal incidents that occurred in the course of psychiatric detention.  The Tribunal ordered that inquests be held into the deaths and that the government pay damages for mental anguish.  

The Human Rights Commission has already sought leave to appeal the Divisional Court's decision to the Court of Appeal for Ontario, as has Renata Braithwaite.  The motion for leave to appeal should be heard in March 2008.

To read the full text of the Divisional Court's decision, please click here.  To read the full text of the Tribunal’s reasons for decision please click here.