Nova Scotia now has committees to review deaths involving domestic violence, children

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Nova Scotia Justice Minister Brad Johns says he hopes the findings of the review committees will give the families confidence in knowing the death of a loved one has been independently examined. (CBC - image credit)
Nova Scotia Justice Minister Brad Johns says he hopes the findings of the review committees will give the families confidence in knowing the death of a loved one has been independently examined. (CBC - image credit)

The Nova Scotia government says amendments to the Fatality Investigations Act that came into effect Wednesday will ensure timely and thorough reviews are carried out in cases of unexpected death.

The amendments will establish both a domestic violence review committee and a child death review committee, and enables other types of death review committees if needed in the future.

"The death of a loved one under any circumstances is hard," said Justice Minister Brad Johns in a news release.

"It is this government's hope that the findings of these review committees will give the families some comfort and confidence in knowing the death of a loved one has been independently examined by experts."

The bill was first introduced by the former Liberal government two years ago.

The overall goal of the committees will be to conduct multi-disciplinary, in-depth reviews and make recommendations to prevent similar deaths in the future, the government said.

Aim is prevention, intervention

The domestic violence review committee will do trend analysis and in-depth reviews to better understand the circumstances of deaths due to domestic violence.

The process is intended to promote a deeper understanding of the dynamics of domestic violence and improve prevention and intervention approaches, the province said.

The child death review committee will analyze deaths of those under the age of 25 to look at patterns, with the aim of preventing other fatalities.

It will also conduct in-depth case reviews of the deaths of children under 19 in the care of the province.

Current mechanisms for reviewing the circumstances of a death and making public recommendations in Nova Scotia include a fatality inquiry, the Police Act and the Public Inquiries Act.

Death review committees will be chaired by the province's chief medical examiner and will bring together experts from within and outside of government to examine the facts and circumstances.

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