NEWS
06/12/2014 06:30 EDT | Updated 08/12/2014 05:59 EDT

Brian Sinclair inquest into ER death to hear final submissions

Closing submissions in the inquest into the death of Brian Sinclair, who was left waiting 34 hours in a Winnipeg hospital emergency room, are set to begin this morning after about a year of proceedings.

Sinclair died of a treatable bladder infection after waiting in the ER in 2008.

The inquest has been looking into the circumstances surrounding his death.

Surveillance footage of Sinclair’s visit to the ER revealed he had vomited numerous times and still did not receive medical care.

Ultimately, an off-duty nurse found Sinclair dead in his wheelchair.

The judge in the inquest is scheduled to submit his non-binding recommendations in December, but Sinclair's family hasalready called the proceedings a disappointment.

In February, his family walked out of the inquest in protest.

Family members said they wanted the inquest to look into racism and discrimination in the health-care system, but the judge said it was beyond the scope of the proceedings.

Health officials say they have made changes since Sinclair’s death — including redesigning the Health Sciences Centre emergency room.

Officials at the hospital have also testified that patients are better tracked when they arrive.

Statement from Aboriginal Legal Services

Winnipeg (June 12, 2014) – As the Inquest into the death of Brian Sinclair formally concludes this week, Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto (ALST) is looking elsewhere for solutions to the serious problems that Aboriginal patients continue to face when they seek medical treatment.

"Inquests are supposed to answer the questions a community has about one of its members. In this case, questions about what role discrimination played in Brian Sinclair’s death have not been adequately addressed," said Emily Hill, senior staff lawyer at ALST, who had been attending the inquest until the agency withdrew from the proceedings in February of this year.

"Of course we will wait and see what recommendations are made in the final report, but based on the decisions about what evidence was called, we think a different process is needed to examine how Brian Sinclair’s death reflects the most extreme example of something that Aboriginal people experience on a regular basis."

The family of Brian Sinclair has called for a public inquiry to examine racism in the health care system.

"ALST supports the family’s call for a public inquiry. It is clear that Brian Sinclair is not an isolated case and that discrimination continues to have a negative effect on Aboriginal and other marginalized people in the health care setting”, said Christa Big Canoe, legal advocacy director of ALST.

"This problem needs to be fully explored so the medical system can begin addressing this problem. We look forward to continuing our work with the Expert Working Group that was formed to address these very issues."

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