Government of Ontario

OFPS Our Plan

Ontario Forensic Pathology Service
Our Plan 2010-2015


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Contents

Message from the Chief Forensic Pathologist
Who We Are

What We Do
Our Legislation

Our Governance

Our Working Relationships

Our Perspective

Our Vision
Our Mission

Our Purpose

Our Values

Our Challenges

The Next Five Years

Our Strategic Priorities
Our Special Commitments

Our Future

Our Staff



Message From The Chief Forensic Pathologist

Michael S. Pollanen, Chief Forensic Pathologist

Forensic pathology is being rejuvenated in Ontario. This exciting time was precipitated by modernization of the Coroners Act, which now defines the role played by the pathologist in death investigation. The amendment of the Coroners Act was a key recommendation of Justice Stephen T. Goudge in his report on the Inquiry into Pediatric Forensic Pathology in Ontario. Justice Goudge recognized the need for legislative changes to provide both the proper recognition of the vital role that forensic pathology plays in death investigation and a foundation for proper organization of a forensic pathology system.

The Goudge Inquiry underscored the need for a fresh start for forensic pathology in this province. Thus, a new statutory entity was proclaimed into existence on July 27, 2009: the Ontario Forensic Pathology Service (OFPS). This is a welcome development that will benefit all citizens of Ontario and support excellence in the death investigation and justice systems. Indeed, it must be remembered that serving the criminal justice system is a central function of the OFPS.

The new developments in Ontario occur at an auspicious moment in the history of forensic pathology in Canada. In 2009, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons approved the first and currently the only residency training program in forensic pathology in Canada. This training program is housed in the headquarters of the OFPS in Toronto at the Provincial Forensic Pathology Unit. The development of postgraduate training and certification of forensic pathologists in Canada is a huge leap forward. Ontario is well positioned to train future generations of forensic pathologists in Canada. Such programs have existed for decades in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. Canada can now truly enter the worldstage of forensic medicine.

Despite the stunning developments in legislation, policy and education, we still have much to do to reform forensic pathology in Ontario. The Goudge Inquiry and the miscarriages of justice in the Mullins-Johnson and Truscott cases are powerful reminders of the awesome responsibilities that forensic pathologists have to society. We must continually improve the quality of our work and develop new approaches. This includes applying new technology and effectively working with our partners in the broader death investigation system.

At this time in our evolution, our primary goal must be to regain and sustain the public confidence that is placed in us. This will ensure that we maximize our contribution to the truth-seeking mandate of the justice system and contribute to public safety and security.

I look forward to the first five years of the OFPS as we face a future that embraces growth and innovation. As we go forward with this foundational plan, we recognize our new legislative responsibilities and our commitment to serving the people of Ontario.


Who We Are

The Ontario Forensic Pathology Service (OFPS) is the new legislatively defined system that provides forensic pathology services under the Coroners Act, as amended on July 27, 2009. Under the revised Coroners Act, the role of forensic pathology is now defined. As partners, the Chief Forensic Pathologist is the leader of the OFPS and the Chief Coroner is the leader of the Office of the Chief Coroner.

Pathologists are the main human resource of the OFPS. Pathologists are specialized medical doctors who have undertaken five years of additional training after medical school in pathology, the study of disease. Forensic pathologists also have post-graduate training in forensic pathology, the application of medicine and science to legal issues usually in the context of sudden death.

Although Ontario coroners are medical doctors, coroners cannot perform autopsies since coroners are typically not qualified as pathologists. Thus, accountability and responsibility for autopsy services now resides with the OFPS, not the Office of the Chief Coroner. The OFPS continues to work closely with the Office of the Chief Coroner to ensure a coordinated and collaborative approach to death investigation in the public interest. Together, the Chief Forensic Pathologist and Chief Coroner provide dual leadership for the death investigation system in Ontario.

Nearly all forensic pathologists in Ontario are affiliated with a Faculty of Medicine. Many forensic pathologists hold professorial positions in academic and clinical departments of pathology or laboratory medicine in Ontario universities. Forensic pathologists working for the OFPS regularly provide expert witness testimony in the inquest court, the Ontario Court of Justice, the Superior Court of Justice and sometimes the Ontario Court of Appeal.

What We Do

The OFPS provides medicolegal autopsy services for public death investigations. Medicolegal autopsies are performed at the request of and under the legal authority of Ontario coroners. Approximately 7000 medicolegal autopsies are performed each year by pathologists working under the auspices of the OFPS. Many of these autopsies occur in Forensic Pathology Units located in Toronto, Hamilton, Kingston, London and Ottawa. Pathologists employed in community hospitals also provide autopsy services through the OFPS.

Many of our forensic pathologists work at the Provincial Forensic Pathology Unit in downtown Toronto, the headquarters for the OFPS. The Provincial Forensic Pathology Unit is co-located with the Office of the Chief Coroner to facilitate communication and collaboration. The Provincial Forensic Pathology Unit performs approximately 1500 autopsies per year and is the central referral facility for many complex autopsies, including homicides, skeletal remains and the violent deaths of infants and children.

The Forensic Pathology Units in Hamilton, London, Kingston and Ottawa are an integral part of the OFPS. Forensic Pathology Units provide regional expertise for approximately 1700 complex autopsies and homicide investigations, including violent deaths of infants and children.

The Forensic Pathology Units are connected to the OFPS by contracts, annual transfer payments (grants) and professional and facilities fees for services rendered. The Chief Forensic Pathologist provides oversight for the work performed by the forensic pathology units and ensures quality of service.

The many pathologists working in community hospitals are an integral part of the OFPS, providing seamless forensic pathology services at the community level. All pathologists in the FPS are assisted by an extended team of autopsy technicians, morgue attendants, pathologist’s assistants, histotechnologists and other laboratory and administrative personnel. This group of dedicated professionals is also vital to the functioning of the OFPS.

Our Legislation

The newly amended Coroners Act ensures a common understanding of roles and responsibilities of pathologists and coroners in the death investigation system. It also enhances the consistency, structure and accountability of forensic pathology services in Ontario. The Coroners Act now: Defines the OFPS as the unified system under which pathologists provide forensic pathology services, including autopsies.

  • Establishes the position of the Chief Forensic Pathologist and provides for professional autonomy from the Chief Coroner.
  • Provides for the oversight of pathology services under the Coroners Act by the Chief Forensic Pathologist.
  • Outlines the roles and responsibilities of the Chief Forensic Pathologist, Deputy Chief Forensic Pathologist and pathologists (e.g., duties and powers for autopsy).
  • Requires that a registry of pathologists approved to perform autopsies be established and maintained by the Chief Forensic Pathologist.
  • Requires the Chief Forensic Pathologist to communicate with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario on adverse findings related to competency and professionalism of a registered pathologist.

The establishment of a register of pathologists helps ensure that pathologists will be appropriately matched to the autopsies consistent with their level of expertise. The new Coroners Act also allows pathologists to have autonomous decision-making for performing ancillary tests (e.g., toxicology testing) and attending death scenes for cases that will, or are reasonably expected to, undergo autopsies. The Chief Forensic Pathologist can reassign a case to another pathologist on the register and may also require that a second autopsy be performed.

The OFPS provides each registered pathologist with a Code of Ethics and practice guidelines to enhance the quality of their work.

Our Goverance

The OFPS and the Office of the Chief Coroner are part of the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services and therefore, are ultimately accountable to the Minister and Deputy Minister of Community Safety. Oversight of the OFPS and the office of the Chief Coroner will be provided by the Death Investigation Oversight Council (late 2009/early 2010).

The main advisory committee of the OFPS is the Forensic Pathology Advisory Committee. This committee includes the Directors of the Regional Forensic Pathology Units, the President of the Ontario Association of Pathologists and the Chief Coroner. This is the main policy-level committee of the OFPS and provides advice to the Chief Forensic Pathologist on the OFPS’s administration and operational matters.

The main subcommittee of the Forensic Pathology Advisory Committee is the Credentials Committee, which provides recommendations to the Chief Forensic Pathologist on the appointment of pathologists to the register.

Our Working Relationships

The OFPS ultimately serves the people of Ontario. Staff of the OFPS, including registered pathologists, work with many public agencies, including hospitals, to ensure coordinated and complete death investigations. Our major partners include: the Office of the Chief Coroner; police agencies including the Ontario Provincial Police; the Office of the Fire Marshal; Special Investigations Unit; and the Centre of Forensic Sciences. Coroners remain our most important collaborators and stakeholders. The OFPS also collaborates with universities on research, education and training.


Our Perspective

Our Vision

A seamless forensic pathology system that fully integrates public service, education and research.

Our Mission

To provide the highest quality forensic pathology service aimed at contributing to the dministration of justice, preventing premature death and protecting public safety.

Our Purpose

  1. To provide high quality forensic pathology services by:
  • Providing medicolegal autopsies by registered pathologists.
  • Providing a Code of Ethics and practice guidelines to facilitate autopsy services.
  • Administering a quality management system for autopsies.
  1. To provide education and professional development in forensic pathology by:
  • Supporting and providing postgraduate training in forensic pathology.
  • Participating in local, regional, national and international activities for the development and application of forensic pathology.
  • Participating in educational programs for pathologists and other members of the death investigation team and the justice system.
  1. To promote knowledge development and knowledge translation in forensic pathology and related fields:
  • Partnering with the University of Toronto’s Centre for Forensic Science and Medicine.
  • Encouraging scholarly activity and research in forensic medicine in Forensic Pathology Units, universities across Ontario and community campuses of medical schools.

Our Values

The OFPS and the Office of the Chief Coroner share four core values that speak to our commitment to public service:

Integrity: We remember that the pursuit of truth, honesty and impartiality are the cornerstones of our work.

Responsiveness: We embrace opportunities, change and innovation.

Excellence: We constantly strive towards best practice and best quality.

Accountability: We recognize the importance of our work and will accept responsibility for our actions.

The OFPS encourages the practical application of these core values in casework. This is achieved by embracing an independent and evidence-based approach that emphasizes the importance of thinking objectively in pursuit of truth.

Our Challenges

In creating a modern forensic pathology delivery system it is essential that we identify and respond to the main challenges that affect the delivery of our services to the people of Ontario. These challenges represent our greatest opportunities to improve and grow into the service provider we want to be. At the highest level, we have five major challenges:

Shortage of forensic pathologists in Canada: The development of forensic pathology in Ontario relies on increasing the number of forensic pathologists in Canada. We are responding to this challenge by creating an infrastructure to train forensic pathologists in Ontario to ensure an adequate domestic workforce of forensic pathologists in the future. Forensic pathologists will be able to accept leadership roles in the death investigation system and participate in further improvements. The justice system, including the defence bar, will have access to an enriched pool of expert witnesses.

Ensuring high quality and timely autopsy reports: Autopsy reports and the expert testimony that flows from them are the main products of the OFPS. Among our challenges are the quality and timeliness of autopsy reports. Reduced timeliness in autopsy reports are mostly due to delays in toxicology reports and the heavy workload of pathologists. This has created variable autopsy quality in Ontario resulting in the use of second autopsies to ensure the quality of autopsy results. This has become an institutionalized risk mitigation strategy and is the cause of major systemic pressures. In order to address this issue we are implementing practice guidelines to assist pathologists. We need to break the ‘second autopsy cycle’ by increasing the quality and timelines and streamlining our operations so we can be confident with one set of thorough results.

Detecting serious heritable conditions: Pathologists are the physicians who, by performing autopsies, determine why people die. We recognize that some people (mostly infants, children and young adults under forty years of age) die of conditions that cannot be detected by a standard autopsy examination. These conditions are often fatal inherited diseases that if detected can save lives. New diagnostic tests based on molecular biology are available for detecting these inherited conditions. These tests constitute the ‘molecular autopsy.’ Our goal is to develop an approach that makes the ‘molecular autopsy’ part of the core service of the OFPS.

Organ retention: Autopsies may involve the retention of whole organs such as the heart or brain for detailed examination after the body is released. Retained organs are carefully examined to ensure that the pathologist provides the best information possible from the autopsy. Authorization for retention is required from the Chief Forensic Pathologist or designate. The retention and disposition of organs should include consideration of the family’s wishes. The OFPS and Office of the Chief Coroner are committed to effectively communicating with the family if organ retention is deemed necessary. This will ensure that the family’s views are known and can be factored into the pathologist’s decision-making about organ retention and how the organs are treated after the examination is completed. This includes due consideration of the views of family members based on First Nations religion and other religions, culture and cherished personal beliefs.

Autopsies in under-serviced areas: Some areas of Ontario have a physician shortage, which includes a shortage of pathologists. This challenges our ability to provide autopsy services in certain communities. In some circumstances, bodies may need to be transported from a remote or under-serviced community to an autopsy facility in another city. This is particularly the case in Northern Ontario and areas of the province with several First Nations communities. We are striving to optimize autopsy service delivery across the province by building local and regional capacity for autopsy services.

The Next Five Years

This plan is a new beginning for forensic pathology in Ontario and will set the foundation for further growth and development. It lays the groundwork for the system that the OFPS ought to become and will facilitate the transition to our new headquarters facility that is projected for 2012.


Our Strategic Priorities

Our two main strategic goals are divided into one short term and one long-term goal. Our short term goal is to modernize forensic pathology services and meet the new statutory requirements. Our long-term goal is to continually improve our basic services and develop new services to allow growth into a leader in forensic pathology. We have ten strategic priorities that will ensure we meet our new legislative requirements and allow us to grow along an innovative future path.

1. Implement the Pathologist Register

The Register is the list of pathologists who are credentialed to perform medicolegal autopsies for the OFPS. The credentialing and appointment of pathologists is a key initial priority for the OFPS. This will enable the Chief Forensic Pathologist to assure coroners, the justice system and the public that only qualified pathologists are performing medicolegal autopsies under the Coroners Act. Pathologists will be registered for five years with the possibility of renewal. Rules of procedure have been created that govern the register, including removal of a pathologist from the register. Requiring pathologists to be registered with the province ensures that only qualified pathologists are performing coroner’s autopsies in Ontario. This register is a public document. The registration of individual pathologists will be within one of three categories:

  • Category A: All cases
  • Category B: Adult cases, excluding homicide and criminally suspicious cases
  • Category C: Pediatric cases, excluding trauma

The implementation of the Register will include the dissemination of an ‘OFPS toolkit’ to each registered pathologist, which will contain:

  • Code of Ethics
  • Practice Guidelines for Medicolegal Postmortem Examinations
  • New autopsy report templates
  • Instructions for reporting to the OFPS

2. Implement a Pathology Information Management System (PIMS)

Implementation of a standard information management system will improve case tracking and monitor turnaround times of autopsy reports. This will make information more readily available to support decision-making and validate those decisions. It will also allow the OFPS to better monitor retention of whole organs, document and carry out disposition instructions based on the wishes of the family. The long-term goal is a completely integrated case management system that incorporates all data from the OFPS and the Office of the Chief Coroner. This is an absolute requirement for a modernized forensic pathology and death investigation service. Realistically, the development of an entirely integrated and fully functional information management system across the entire death investigation continuum must be a future goal.

However, a short-term priority for the OFPS is capturing real-time data about autopsies performed each day under the auspices of the OFPS. This is the first step in the development of an information management system for the OFPS and a necessary requirement for a quality management system. The short-term solution is the Pathology Information Management System (PIMS). PIMS will be a database of all medicolegal autopsies performed by the OFPS and will include case demographics and basic facts about the autopsy. Whenever a registered pathologist performs an autopsy for the OFPS a case record will be electronically transmitted to the OFPS using a secure e-form. The data collected on the e-form will populate the PIMS database and permit daily review of basic case information from across the province. This data will be available to all forensic pathology units through the OFPS headquarters. Eventually, PIMS can be merged with the Coroners Information Systems thereby producing a complete dataset of any case, spanning all aspects of the death investigation.

3. Develop stronger quality management processes for the OFPS

Timely, reliable and credible autopsy findings and expert opinions are the cornerstones of any forensic pathology services worthy of public confidence. Therefore, providing high quality and timely autopsy reports is a key priority for the OFPS. To enhance our services, we will develop a comprehensive quality management strategy that will be linked to the development and implementation of PIMS. The first steps will be to institute and monitor key performance indicators for the OFPS (e.g., turnaround time for autopsy reports) and to develop the systemic audit of a subset of all autopsy reports. At present, a robust peer review process is in place for autopsy reports in homicide cases and selected complex cases. However, this auditing process needs to be extended to other types of case as soon as possible, including autopsy reports from registered

pathologists working in community hospitals.

4. Rejuvenate the Forensic Pathology Units

The Forensic Pathologist Units in Hamilton, London, Kingston and Ottawa are key institutions in the OFPS. The Forensic Pathology Units are centres of excellence and together perform a major proportion of the autopsies in the OFPS. The Forensic Pathology Units also provide important regional services to the justice system and offset the need to transport bodies to the Provincial Forensic Pathology Units in Toronto for autopsy.

To ensure high-quality and timely autopsy services, the OFPS is developing service level agreements with the forensic pathology units. These agreements will address accountability and performance standards.

In the short-term, it will be important to monitor the operational capacity of all of the current Forensic Pathology Units to ensure quality services can take place. In turn, it is essential that we provide adequate resources through rationalized transfer payments (grants). Revised contracts with the addition of service level agreements to increase accountability and commitment to the OFPS are a short-term priority. Contracts with services agreements are also necessary for community hospital settings where forensic autopsies are performed proportional to volume of service. In the long term, the OFPS needs to foster the development of forensic pathology residency training programs and research in the Forensic Pathology Units.

5. Re-develop OFPS services in geographic areas that are underserviced by pathologists

Some areas of Ontario have a physician shortage, including pathologists. This challenges our ability to provide uniformly delivered autopsy services across Ontario. This is further complicated by the sparse distribution of community hospitals in Northern Ontario and an unevenly distributed workforce of pathologists. Pathologists practicing in Ontario are also aging and have heavy workloads. Autopsies performed for the OFPS by pathologists employed by hospitals are often additional tasks, since the main duty is to provide diagnostic services for living patients, many with cancer and other chronic diseases. Furthermore, there are changes in how pathology is practiced in Northern Ontario, including amalgamation of services under hospitals or referral laboratories in Southern Ontario. All of these issues challenge the ability of the OFPS to provide autopsy services within remote and underserviced areas of Ontario. The OFPS and the Ontario Association of Pathologists will undertake a workload and workforce study in Northern Ontario, to ensure sustainable delivery of autopsy service across Ontario. Our goal is to identify a referral network of hospitals and pathologists in Northern Ontario to minimize the transfer of bodies to cities that are distant from the communities where deaths occur.

6. Implement new health and safety procedures across the OFPS

Performing and observing autopsies can expose people to the risk of acquiring transmissible infections such as tuberculosis. The OFPS is focusing on developing exemplary health and safety practices to protect our staff and others who attend autopsies in the course of their duties, such as police. We are starting this initiative by implementing new health and safety procedures for the autopsy facilities in the Provincial Forensic Pathology Unit. The OFPS is also working with the Ontario Association of Pathologists to develop a strategy for a needs analysis of community hospital autopsy facilities. This will ensure that autopsy facilities in community hospitals are satisfactorily constructed and maintained to provide sustainable autopsy services for the upcoming years.

7. Develop contracts or other agreements with major OFPS clients

The OFPS has a wide range of clients both inside and outside the Ontario government. To ensure strong relationships and an understanding of service expectations, we plan to develop specific contact and/or agreements with our key clients. Our most frequent provincial clients are the Office of the Chief Coroner, the Ontario Provincial Police, Office of the Fire Marshal and the Special Investigations Unit. In addition, several major municipal regional police agencies frequently require our services, particularly for the investigation of crimes resulting in death. Improved service provisions can be achieved by developing memoranda of understanding or other written agreements with our clients.

The OFPS also provides services to organizations outside of Ontario, including the Department of National Defence and the Government of Nunavut. It is important to formalize these relationships with contracts. The forensic pathologists in the Provincial Forensic Pathology Unit is providing autopsy services for the Canadian Military in support of a program to help prevent the loss of life of Canadian soldiers serving in Afghanistan. We have specifically provided information to help devise strategies to protect our soldiers from the threat of Improvised Explosive Devices.

8. Renew the technical support services of the OFPS

High quality medicolegal autopsies require ancillary testing and other technical services. The main technical supports include toxicology, histology, radiography and photography. The main professional supports required in the OFPS are neuropathology, paediatric pathology, forensic anthropology and forensic odontology. The OFPS recognizes the need to develop an organized approach to accessing, utilizing and remunerating services provided in these areas. In addition, all of the Forensic Pathology Units, except the Provincial Forensic Pathology Unit, are located in academic health science centres and have access to well-developed technical and laboratory support services. We need to use the technology now available to modernize and staff our radiography, photography and histology facilities in the Provincial Forensic Pathology Unit to ensure we have the resources to provide the best quality autopsies while promoting and providing postgraduate training in forensic pathology in-house. Community hospital autopsy facilities should also meet agreed optimal standards to ensure a high quality of service.

9. Develop the molecular autopsy as a core OFPS service

There have been major advances in the understanding of the causes of sudden and unexpected death in the young. This has resulted in the recognition of the sudden arrhythmic death syndrome, which may be caused by genetic mutations. Many of these genetic mutations run in families and cause an increased risk of other family members dying suddenly. On this basis, it is important that we identify which deaths are caused by such mutations, so medical care can be instituted for surviving family members. Such genetic mutations can be identified with new diagnostic tests offered by the techniques of molecular biology, using an approach called the ‘molecular autopsy’. The OFPS is well positioned to develop the molecular autopsy as a core service. Our first step is to undertake a feasibility study for building an in-house laboratory or developing partnership with an external laboratory. We hope that the OFPS can develop the molecular autopsy to advance our mission to prevent premature death from disease.

10. Train future generations of Canadian forensic pathologists

Education and research in forensic science and medicine is the only path to a sustainable future for the OFPS. The OFPS must sustain its strong commitment to research and education in forensic pathology and related disciplines. There are three main mechanisms that will allow this to occur.

First, the accredited forensic pathology residency training program at the University of Toronto must be continued and actively supported. The commitment of the University of Toronto to provide three funded residency positions per year was a vital step in the sustainable development of forensic pathology in Ontario and Canada. We must train future generations of forensic pathologists for Canada.

Second, we are encouraging the development of accredited forensic pathology residency training programs in the high-volume Forensic Pathology Units in Ontario. We are hiring some of these newly trained forensic pathologists for the OFPS workforce.

Finally, we need to continue the strong partnership of the OFPS with the Centre for Forensic Science and Medicine at the University of Toronto. Presently, the Chief Forensic Pathologist also sits as the Director of the Centre for Forensic Science and Medicine and the Director of the forensic pathology residency training program to ensure continuity. This also sustains an academic vision for the OFPS that embraces knowledge development and knowledge translation. The resources of the University of Toronto are key to the development and delivery of continuing medical, legal and police education in forensic science and medicine.


Our Special Commitments

The OFPS is dedicated to four specific projects that reflect our commitment to the useful application of forensic pathology for justice. These special projects reflect our participation in the broader community and global efforts to sustain the Rule of Law in the developing world.

1. Work with Infrastructure Ontario to design and develop a new forensic facility.

The OFPS, Centre of Forensic Sciences and the Office of the Chief Coroner are collaborating with Infrastructure Ontario to design and develop a new forensic facility. This facility, targeted to be open in 2012, will be a state-of-the- art building with modernized autopsy suites and laboratories. The new facility will also house forensic science laboratories and the inquest courts. The new facility will permit an increase in autopsy cases managed centrally and alleviate pressures on community hospitals.

2. Shaken Baby Death Review Team

The Ministry of the Attorney General is currently engaged in a systematic post-conviction review of cases of shaken baby syndrome and related forms of pediatric head injury. The OFPS is roviding forensic pathology representation on the team and is also assisting with logistics for the review of coroner’s cases. In addition, the OFPS provides professional resources for other post-conviction pathology reviews that have emerged from the Inquiry in Pediatric Forensic Pathology in Ontario (Goudge Inquiry).

3. Outreach education for OFPS stakeholders

Forensic pathologists in the OFPS regularly participate in continuing education events for police (homicide investigators and forensic identification officers), assistant crown attorneys, jurists and the defense bar. Our participation in conferences and workshops is typically by invitation. Standardization of a forensic pathology curriculum for these educational programs is underway.

4. Training forensic pathologists from the developing world

Several Ontario forensic pathologists have undertaken tours of duty with international organizations such as the United Nations. We have seen how forensic pathology is vital to the development and sustainability of the Rule of Law, particularly in developing democracies and post-conflict societies. The OFPS is dedicated to contributing to the training of forensic pathologists from the developing world. In the past several years, forensic pathologists from Sri Lanka have undertaken postgraduate training in the OFPS and have returned home to practice forensic pathology. We are exploring partnerships to sustain the international training program in collaboration with the Centre for Forensic Science and Medicine at the University of Toronto and the Victorian Institute for Forensic Medicine in Australia.


Our Future

The OFPS will continuously improve and expand services. The future development of the OFPS must be based on innovation and technological solutions to improve the quality and scope of our work. In addition to molecular autopsy, there are two major issues on the horizon.

First, we need to develop postmortem diagnostic imaging (e.g., postmortem CT and MRI scanning) as a modern tool to augment the autopsy. Although some people have suggested that postmortem imaging may replace the autopsy, current research implies that its best use is to improve the quality of autopsies rather than to replace them. We need to develop post-mortem radiology as a specific expertise within the discipline of forensic pathology and train forensic pathologists in this area.

Second, we must remember that serving the criminal justice system is a central function of forensic pathology. In the traditional Canadian approach to forensic pathology, our work has been limited to the examination of dead victims of crime and violence. There is currently very little capacity for clinical forensic medicine, the application of forensic pathology and medicine to interpreting injuries sustained by living survivors of crime and violence. Clinical forensic medicine can provide vital information to the courts in serious crimes such as aggravated assault, attempted murder and sexual violence. We need to develop clinical forensic medicine as part of the OFPS. This is a further extension of forensic pathology into the world of the living.


Our Staff

Ontario Forensic Pathology Service and Provincial Forensic Pathology Unit
Staff Forensic Pathologists

Dr. Kris Cunningham (Forensic Pathologist)

Dr. Noel McAuliffe (Forensic Pathologist)

Dr. Michael Pollanen (Chief Forensic Pathologist)

Dr. Toby Rose (Director, Provincial Forensic Pathology Unit)

Dr. Jeff Tanguay (Forensic Pathologist)

Forensic Pathology Fellows (2009-2010)

Dr. Charis Kepron

Dr. Michael Pickup

Forensic Pathologists in the Forensic Pathology Units

Dr. David Chiasson (Director, Hospital for Sick Children)

Dr. John Fernandes (Hamilton)

Dr. David King (Hamilton)

Dr. Christopher Milroy (Ottawa)

Dr. Jacqueline Parai (Director, Ottawa)

Dr. Chitra Rao (Director, Hamilton)

Dr. John Rossiter* (Director, Kingston)

Dr. Mike Shkrum (Director, London)

Dr. Elena Tugaleva (London)

Dr. Ted Tweedie (London)

Dr. Martin Queen (Sudbury)

* Neuropathologist, not Forensic Pathologist

Forensic Pathology Advisory Committee

Dr. David Chiasson

Dr. John Fernandes

Dr. Suhas Joshi (Ontario Association of Pathologists)

Dr. Andrew McCallum (Chief Coroner)

Dr. Christopher Milroy

Dr. Jacqueline Parai

Dr. Michael Pollanen (Chair)

Dr. Chitra Rao

Dr. Toby Rose

Dr. John Rossiter

Dr. Mike Shkrum

Dr. Martin Queen