News release

Amendments To Ensure Cemetery Operations Continue

SERVICE N.S./MUNICIPAL RELATIONS--Amendments To Ensure Cemetery Operations Continue


The Nova Scotia legislature has sent to law amendments a bill that would ensure cemeteries continue to be maintained and operated after their owners abandon them.

Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations Minister Barry Barnet tabled the legislation on Tuesday, April 20 following the actions of Atlantic Cemetery Holdings Inc., which has ceased operating two cemeteries in Sydney and Alma, Pictou Co. "This has caused tremendous concern to people who have deceased family members interred in these cemeteries or awaiting burial, or who have paid in advance for funeral services," Mr. Barnet said.

"We are taking this action to ensure the right thing is done for these people and to ensure no one has to go through this uncertainty again. The amendments are needed because current legislation does not authorize the minister to take the action required to protect consumers and ensure continued operation of cemeteries."

Under amendments to the Cemetery and Funeral Services Act, the minister would have authority to appoint an administrator to ensure that the day-to-day operations of a cemetery continues if the owner goes out of business or is unwilling to continue operating the cemetery. "The administrator would be a temporary solution until another operator or owner can be found," the minister said. "This would include regular maintenance, which would be paid for from a perpetual care fund that all licensed cemetery owners are required to establish."

The registrar of cemeteries and funeral services, an employee of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, would have authority to take control of pre-paid trust funds for the benefit of the consumer and to order the cemetery owner to perform any functions necessary for the continued operations of the cemetery. These orders could be overturned only by a court. Today, the registrar can only enforce rules requiring pre-paid accounts to be kept in a separate trust. The current law does not authorize the registrar to access these accounts in the event of the cemetery no longer operating.

In February, Atlantic Cemetery Holdings decided to cease its operation of Heatherdale Cemetery in Pictou County and Forest Haven Cemetery in Cape Breton County. This left thousands of Nova Scotians, who had paid in advance for burial plots and funeral services, uncertain about their arrangements. The department has confirmed that pre-paid trust funds are in order and has received assurances from Atlantic Cemetery Holdings that remains awaiting burial will be interred within the next couple of weeks.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

A bill that would ensure cemeteries continue to be maintained and operated after their owners abandon them has been forwarded to the legislature's law amendments committee.

Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations Minister Barry Barnet tabled the legislation following the actions of Atlantic Cemetery Holdings Incorporated. The company stopped operating two cemeteries in Sydney and Alma, Pictou County.

The minister says this caused tremendous concern to people who have deceased family members interred in the cemeteries or awaiting burial, or who have paid in advance for funeral services.

The legislation would enable the minister to appoint an administrator to temporarily ensure the day-to-day operations of a cemetery if the owner goes out of business or is unwilling to continue operating the cemetery.

The new law would also allow the province to take control of pre-paid trust accounts for the benefit of the consumer.

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Contact:

David MacNeil
Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations 902-424-6336 E-mail: