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This is an archive of the Commission of Inquiry on Hormone Receptor Testing website, which was last updated in April 2009
and will not be updated further. If you have difficulty accessing any material, please contact the Department of Justice.



What is the Commission of Inquiry on Hormone Receptor Testing?

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador under the authority of the Public Inquiries Act, 2006 established the Commission of Inquiry on Hormone Receptor Testing on July 3, 2007.  The Honourable Margaret A. Cameron was appointed Commissioner.

The Commission will inquire into and report on problems with estrogen and progesterone hormone receptor tests conducted between 1997 and 2005 within the Newfoundland and Labrador health system.

What is a public inquiry?

Governments establish public inquiries to investigate and report on matters of public interest. The mandate of each inquiry is set out in its terms of reference.

An inquiry is not a trial. The Commission is independent and performs its duties without expressing conclusions about civil or criminal liability of any person or organization.

Who will be involved?

Prior to the start of the inquiry, the Commission determined which individuals or organizations would be granted standing for Parts I and II. Those are:

1.      Her Majesty in Right of Newfoundland and Labrador

2.      Eastern Regional Integrated Health Authority

3.      Dr. Kara Laing et al.

4.      Central Regional Integrated Health Authority, Western Regional Integrated Health Authority, and Labrador-Grenfell Regional Integrated Health Authority

5.      Canadian Cancer Society, Newfoundland and Labrador Division

6.      Members of the Breast Cancer Testing Class Action

The following have been granted standing for Part II of the Inquiry:

  1. Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association
  2. Healthcare Insurance Reciprocal of Canada

Why will the inquiry be divided into two parts?

The Terms of Reference tell the Commissioner what subjects are to be examined during the Inquiry.  In this case, those Terms of Reference require consideration of what happened in the past, the current situation and what should be done in the future. While the traditional method of public hearings is considered the best method of obtaining information about the past and present, it is not as helpful in obtaining information which would assist in making recommendations for the future.

In Part I, the Commission will inquire into problems with estrogen and progesterone hormone receptor tests conducted between 1997 and 2005 in the Newfoundland and Labrador health care system. This will include inquiry into what happened to cause or contribute to the problems, when the problems came to light, and whether they could have been detected earlier. Part I will also examine any protocols in place during the relevant time frame and what steps, if any, were taken by responsible authorities when they became aware of the problems. In addition, there will be evidence respecting the current systems and processes and quality assurance systems. Part I of the Inquiry will be conducted in the traditional method of public inquiries. Witnesses will be examined by Commission Counsel and cross-examined by Counsel for parties who have been granted standing.

Part II of the Inquiry will have a policy focus and will include a review of both policy and legal issues raised by the Terms of Reference.  Part II will address how such issues should be dealt with in the future. As well, Part II will examine whether the estrogen and progesterone hormone receptor testing systems and processes and quality assurances systems currently in place are reflective of “best practices.”  It is expected that during the hearings for Part I some witnesses will also be able to provide information relevant to Part II.   Generally, however, Part II will take a different approach to the gathering of information. The Commission has engaged a number of experts who are preparing papers considering legal and ethical issues related to disclosure. These papers will be placed on our website during March. As well, on April 22nd and 23rd, 2008, there will be a symposium (agenda) which will include presentations by those who have prepared papers and other experts who will address quality assurance issues as well as disclosure.

What is the role of Commission Co-Counsel?

The Commission co-counsel work for the Commission. Commission co-counsel do not represent any particular interest or point of view.

The Commission co-counsel locate, organize and tend to the evidence. They bring the evidence to the attention of the Commissioner and, through the inquiry process, to the public. 

What will happen when the hearing concludes?

The Commission shall deliver its final report and recommendations to the Minister of Health and Community Services.

Will Government be forced to make changes resulting from the recommendations?

Recommendations resulting from inquiries are not binding; however, other governments have adopted some or all findings resulting from other inquiries.

How will you notify the public of the witnesses scheduled to appear before the Commission?

A weekly list of witnesses to be called to testify will be posted to the Commission’s website. 

Where will public hearings take place?

Hearings will be held at 50 Tiffany Lane, St. John’s.  The hearings are open to the public. 

What are the hours of operation for the public hearings?

Hearings will be held Monday through Friday each week. 

The hearings will start at 9:30 a.m. and will conclude at 4:45 p.m. each day.  The lunch break will be from 12:45 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.  There will be a 15-minute break in the morning and in the afternoon.  

Will the hearings be televised?

The proceedings will be webcast via the Commission website. People who would like to view the webcast of the Inquiry and do not have access to a computer, may use the computer(s) located at their local library. Please contact the library nearest you for hours of operation and booking information.

 Rogers Television (Channel 9) broadcasts delayed hearings as follows: Monday - Friday: 12:30 pm - 6:30 pm

How can transcripts and copies of exhibits be obtained?

Information presented to the Commissioner will be made available electronically via the Commission website after 8 p.m. each day. 

If I have a question about the proceedings, whom can I contact?

If members of the public have questions, they can send an email to info@cihrt.nl.ca or contact the Commission via mail or telephone Contact Us

All media inquiries should be directed to Ms. Theresa Heffernan at: (709) 729-0728 or via email at theffernan@cihrt.nl.ca