About the Coroners Service
In British Columbia, the Chief Coroner is appointed under the Coroners Act by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council upon the recommendation of the Solicitor General. The position is judicially independent with respect to statutory functions. The chief coroner supervises and directs all regional coroners in the province.
The organizational structure from top down is as follows:
Deputy Chief Coroners
For more information on the duties and responsibilities of the Chief Coroner, see the Accountabilities of the Chief Coroner (PDF).
The BC Coroners Service is responsible for the investigation of all unnatural, sudden and unexpected deaths in the province, and for ensuring that the relevant facts are made a matter of public record, either through the completion of a Coroner’s judgment or the holding of an Inquest (quasi-judicial public hearing).
One of the agency’s most important responsibilities is the identification and advancement of recommendations to individuals, groups, agencies and others aimed at prevention of death in the future under similar circumstances. The agency maintains a major database and conducts ongoing review of common causes of death aimed at identifying problems and trends. When such issues are identified, the agency conducts additional reviews and studies aimed at establishing effective and workable preventative measures.
The BC Coroners Service is also responsible for conducting reviews of all child deaths occurring within the province. This requires appropriate liaison with agencies such as the Ministry of Children and Family Development and the Representative for Children and Youth, among others. The BC Coroners Service also conducts special reviews on issues affecting the prevention of child deaths and on child safety more broadly.
In completing its responsibilities, the BC Coroners Service issues warrants authorizing the conduct of autopsies, toxicology testing and additional procedures, such as microscopy, where required. Coroners have legislated seizure and inspection powers when and where warranted in order to gather the facts surrounding a death. The agency is also responsible for body removal and transportation.
In the event of a mass disaster involving significant loss of life, the agency is responsible for the identification, recovery, examination and repatriation of human remains, including establishing a temporary morgue facility and connecting with families of the victims.