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Calgary MLA calls for investigation of medical examiner’s office after fourth resignation

A Calgary MLA is calling for an investigation after a fourth medical examiner resigned from the Calgary office in a matter of four months.
A Calgary MLA is calling for an investigation after a fourth medical examiner resigned from the Calgary office in a matter of four months. Tom Vernon, Global News

As Alberta Justice works to fill a fourth position at Calgary’s medical examiner’s office, Liberal MLA Dr. David Swann is calling for an investigation into the office he says doctors find “impossible” to work in.

Alberta Justice told Global News on Sunday that a medical examiner resigned from the Calgary office last weekend.

In December 2017, Global News reported that three medical examiners are leaving the office — two are set to leave this spring and the third this summer.

READ MORE: 3 Calgary medical examiners set to resign in 2018

Those three resignations came after the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) was plagued with turmoil, including a lawsuit and swirling doubt about the qualification of some of its doctors.

“The fourth of five medical examiners has found it impossible to work here,” Swann said in a release.

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Swann is calling on the province’s justice minister to do a review into what it leading to the departures.

“We’ve had a serious loss of manpower in this critically important office that investigates unnatural deaths,” Swann told Global News on Sunday. “We deserve to know what’s going on there. These are very difficult folks to find and … it’s like a revolving door there now.”

Watch from December 2017: Global News has learned three Calgary medical examiners are set to leave their positions next year. As Tracy Nagai reports, the news comes amid years of turmoil in the department.

3 Calgary medical examiners set to resign in 2018
3 Calgary medical examiners set to resign in 2018

Swann added that the ongoing opioid crisis in Alberta has “put a tremendous strain on that office,” and that despite new hires to deal with that increase in cases, there are still significant delays.

In an emailed statement, Alberta Justice said that while the three doctors that resigned last year haven’t left the office yet, replacements have already been recruited and are set to start this summer.

READ MORE: Alberta medical examiner sues province, claims political interference

When asked about the fourth resignation, a spokesperson said the office is “optimistic we will recruit a replacement before this medical examiner departs in late summer, early fall.”

“OCME already has arrangements in place (e.g., bringing in qualified temporary service physicians and Edmonton-based medical examiners to assist) to ensure service delivery during these transitions.”

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