The Inquest into the death of Brian Sinclair opened yesterday in Winnipeg. Brian Sinclair was a 45-year old homeless, Aboriginal man confined to a wheelchair due to double amputations. On September 19, 2008, he went to the emergency room of Winnipeg’s Health Sciences with a bladder infection, where he spoke with triage staff and was directed to wait. According to media reports, Mr. Sinclair waited as directed, without receiving care, until he died, some 34 hours after arriving at the hospital.
Provincial Court Judge Timothy Preston will hear testimony over the next several months in the Inquest called under the provisions of The Fatality Inquiries Act (Manitoba). The Act requires that Judge Preston:
(a) make and send a written report of the inquest to the minister setting forth when, where and by what means the deceased person died, the cause of the death, the name of the deceased person, if known, and the material circumstances of the death;
(b) upon the request of the minister, send to the minister the notes or transcript of the evidence taken at the inquest; and
(c) send a copy of the report to the medical examiner who examined the body of the deceased person;
and may recommend changes in the programs, policies or practices of the government and the relevant public agencies or institutions or in the laws of the province where the presiding provincial judge is of the opinion that such changes would serve to reduce the likelihood of deaths in circumstances similar to those that resulted in the death that is the subject of the inquest.
The still incomplete schedule for hearings is posted on the Sinclair family blog, Ignored To Death in Winnipeg Manitoba. Interestingly, the blog also contains the Sinclair family’s opening statement and numerous other documents related both to the Inquest and the ongoing civil litigation arising out of Mr. Sinclair’s death. The Inquest Report, when issued, will be available on the Manitoba Courts website.