Sick Kids suspends operations at Motherisk drug testing laboratory

The Hospital for Sick Children has suspended its operations at the Motherisk drug testing laboratory.

The decision comes after an independent review was ordered by the government of Ontario on the now controversial Motherisk hair analysis program.

Independent review

Retired Court of Appeal Justice Susan Lang is probing the case and the review will be completed in June.

The independent review will examine the adequacy and reliability of hair testing conducted by Motherisk from 2005 to 2010.

The investigation will also look into whether the results were used appropriately in child protection and criminal proceedings.

Motherisk’s hair and drug test program

Motherisk’s hair drug and alcohol tests have always been viewed as a crucial evidence for parental substance abuse in Ontario’s courts.

The results from these tests play a pivotal role in child protection and criminal cases in four provinces and one territory outside Ontario.

The case of Tamara Broomfield

The 2009 criminal trial of  Toronto’s Tamara Broomfield, in which an appeal court cast doubt on evidence the lab authorities provided, prompted them to look into the matter seriously.

Broomfield, who was once infamously dubbed Toronto’s cocaine mom was sentenced to seven years in jail in 2009 after Motherisk director Gideon Koren testified that the tests on Broomfield’s toddler’s hair showed the signs of cocaine overdose that reportedly left his brain damaged.

However, in October 2009 the court of appeal overturned the cocaine convictions after fresh evidence cast doubt on the reliability of the medical evidence since there was no primary evidence to determine whether her son had been ingested or was he exposed to cocaine over an extended time.

Above all, Broomfield’s lawyer also questioned the procedures involved in  the analysis conducted by the laboratory. She was released on bail last year.

In 2014, Christine Rupert, whose children were taken away from her after a test conducted at Motherisk lab showed she had been a heavy cocaine user, also challenged the reliability of the tests.


Below is a history of the Motherisk and the controversy surrounding it.



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