Quebec coroner sets new dates for inquiry’s hearings into Residence Herron’s pandemic-related deaths

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Families will have to wait for answers as coroner’s inquest into Herron deaths delayed'
Coronavirus: Families will have to wait for answers as coroner’s inquest into Herron deaths delayed
Disappointment today for families of people who died at a Quebec long-term care home that was one of those hit hardest by COVID-19. A public coroner’s inquest that was supposed to get families answers they've been waiting almost a year for - has been postponed. Global’s Dan Spector reports – Feb 16, 2021

A Quebec coroner has unveiled the new schedule for an inquiry’s hearings into novel coronavirus-related deaths at the Residence Herron, one of the hardest-hit long-term care homes in the province.

The hearings will occur on the following dates: Sept. 7 to 10, Sept. 13 to 16 and Sept. 20 to 23 at the Montreal courthouse.

Earlier this week, coroner Géhane Kamel announced her decision to delay the hearings into the Dorval facility, where 47 people died during the first wave of the pandemic last spring.

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Kamel’s decision came after lawyers representing the Herron’s management called for a postponement, arguing that Crown prosecutors haven’t decided if they intend to charge the owners of the long-term care home and that allowing the inquest to go forward as planned could prejudice their clients.

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Meanwhile, families of residents who died at Herron and lawyers representing media companies argued the inquest should continue immediately and publicly.

In her decision, Kamel emphasized the importance of a public hearing happening as soon as possible — but she decided it’s best to wait until Crown prosecutors decide if Herron management will face criminal charges. She apologized to the families, saying they have waited long enough.

The coroner’s inquest will move forward with hearings regarding pandemic-related deaths at six other long-term care facilities, known as CHSLDs in Quebec, as outlined in Kamel’s mandate.

It has been suspended until March 29, when it will pick up in Joliette, Que., with hearings looking at another facility.

 — With files from Global News’ Dan Spector and The Canadian Press

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