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Inquiry would be beyond 'mandate', Sinclair inquest judge says

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Provincial court Judge Tim Preston said he will not be dealing with the social determinants, including race, poverty, and disability that caused Sinclair (pictured) and others to go to emergency.

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Provincial court Judge Tim Preston said he will not be dealing with the social determinants, including race, poverty, and disability that caused Sinclair (pictured) and others to go to emergency.

The examination of Brian Sinclair's death is an inquest not an inquiry and the judge overseeing it has no intention of expanding its focus.

Provincial court Judge Tim Preston said today - as part of his outline for what he wants to hear during phase two of the inquest - that inquiries are wide ranging examinations which are mandated by the province through orders in council.

But Preston reminded people - including lawyers for Sinclair's family - that an inquest has a much narrower scope and is ordered only by the province's chief medical examiner.

"I am not turning this inquest into a de facto inquiry," he said.

Preston said he will not be dealing with the social determinants, including race, poverty, and disability that caused Sinclair and others to go to emergency.

"It is far beyond the scope of my mandate," he said.

"The reasons for delay that occur once a person presents at an emergency department and measures to reduce that delay are the subject matter of this inquest."

Sinclair, 45, died after spending 34 hours in the Health Sciences Centre's emergency department waiting room without being seen.

Sinclair, who died up to seven hours before being found, died of a treatable bladder infection caused by a blocked urinary catheter.

Preston said the inquest will continue for eight days in February and four days in June before wrapping up.

He said it will hear from two nurses who work in the emergency department about patient flow issues as well as the president of the Manitoba Nurses Union. He said it will also hear from a half dozen witnesses from the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

But the judge also said he wants to hear from an outside expert on patient flows in emergency rooms as well as someone who can discuss best practices for treating aboriginal people.

While discussing Sinclair himself, Preston said one misconception that he heard was wrong during phase one of the inquest, was that he was homeless.

He even chided a lawyer for Sinclair's family of repeating that misconception during earlier court motions a few years ago. In fact, HSC staff had earlier worked with home care to find him a spot in the Quest Inn.

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

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