Legislation Gives Public Trustee Authority for Unclaimed Remains
Legislation introduced today, April 1, will formally recognize the Public Trustee of Nova Scotia’s authority to manage cases and make final arrangements for a deceased person when the next of kin cannot be identified or take responsibility.
“All Nova Scotians deserve respectful and compassionate arrangements upon their death,” said Brad Johns, Minister of Justice and Attorney General. “Government becomes involved when there are no family members or loved ones to take responsibility for a person’s final arrangements. These changes give clear legislative authority to the Public Trustee to continue this important work.”
Amendments to the Anatomy Act, Public Trustee Act and Fatality Investigations Act will give the Public Trustee the authority to:
- determine when human remains are unclaimed and assume responsibility for the deceased
- make and pay for disposition arrangements
- recover costs from the estate when possible.
The Public Trustee has had responsibility to manage unclaimed remains since a policy change in March 2020. Before that, several government departments had overlapping roles in cases involving unclaimed remains. The policy change was an interim solution until the government made the changes permanent in legislation.
The Public Trustee is committed to providing respectful arrangement for all people left in hospitals and morgues around the province who have no one to make these arrangements on their behalf.
Shannon Ingraham-Christie, Public Trustee of Nova Scotia
- there are about 60 cases of unclaimed remains each year in Nova Scotia
- the uncremated remains of a deceased person held by an institution such as a morgue or hospital are considered unclaimed when next of kin cannot be identified or cannot take responsibility
- unclaimed cremated remains in funeral homes are covered under the Embalmers and Funeral Directors Act; most funeral homes have processes in place to address such circumstances
Bills tabled in the legislature this spring are available at: https://nslegislature.ca/legislative-business/bills-statutes/bills/assembly-64-session-1
Nova Scotia Public Trustee: https://novascotia.ca/just/pto/
Embalmers and Funeral Directors Act: https://nslegislature.ca/sites/default/files/legc/statutes/embalmers%20and%20funeral%20directors.pdf