Commission to Investigate the Introduction and Spread of SARS in Ontario Français

 Commission Staff 

Questions and Answers About the Commission

What was the independent SARS Commission?

The independent Commission to Investigate the Introduction and Spread of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) was created by the Government of Ontario in June, 2003, to investigate how the SARS virus came to the province, how the virus spread and how it was dealt with. It looked at all aspects of the outbreak, including measures taken to protect the public and health workers.

Who headed the Commission?

The Commissioner was Mr. Justice Archie Campbell of the Ontario Superior Court.

What will happen at the end of the investigation?

Mr. Justice Campbell completed his final report, containing his findings and recommendations, in December 2006. It was transmitted to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care on January 4, 2007, and released to the public on January 9, 2007. He previously issued two interim reports. The first, SARS and Public Health in Ontario, was completed on April 15, 2004 and was released by the Minister of Health April 20, 2004; the second, SARS and Public Health Legislation, was transmitted to the Minister on April 5, 2005, and made public on April 11, 2005.

Was this a government investigation?

No. Mr. Justice Campbell conducted the investigation independently of the government. All ministries, boards, agencies and commissions were directed by the government to respect his independence and to assist the investigation to the fullest extent.

Was this a public Inquiry similar to the one that examined the water contamination in Walkerton?

No. The SARS Commission was an investigation, not a public inquiry. It was created under the Health Protection and Promotion Act not, as Walkerton was, under the Public Inquiries Act. This meant that it proceeded differently. Except for public hearing in Toronto, the investigation was carried out through meetings and confidential personal interviews and by examination of documents and consultations with experts. More than 600 people were interviewed.

Did people speaking to the Commission have to fear repercussions at their place of employment?

No. Persons who disclose information to the Commission are protected from any adverse employment action under section 9.1 of the Public Inquiries Act, popularly referred to as the "whistleblower clause." Personal interviews are conducted on a confidential basis. The report will not name those who speak to the Commission confidentially. The terms of reference prohibit findings of liability against persons or organizations.

How can I get a copy of the Report?

The final report will be available for purchase in late January from Publications Ontario in printed form and as a DVD. The report is also available on this web page. It includes both interim reports.

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©2003-2007 Commission to Investigate the Introduction and Spread of SARS in Ontario