FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 20, 2023
Statement by Hon. Peter Bevan-Baker on prepaid funerals and need for better protections for Islanders
All good relationships are built on a foundation of trust. None more-so than with the people we entrust with our most private and intimate affairs. Among that group are funeral directors, who come into our lives at a vulnerable and emotional time. Often funeral directors have spent generations in a community, building the trust that allows people to go to them with confidence at a uniquely sensitive time.
That same trust is what provides comfort to people – often folks with limited extra money – who hand over thousands of dollars for prepaid funerals. They do so to remove future worries for themselves and their families, and they do it with a sense of relief, and a feeling of security that they are placing those funds in a safe place with a trusted partner.
That is why it was so shocking to discover that a funeral home here on Prince Edward Island is facing dozens of charges related to misappropriation of those funds that by law must be held safely in trust. Dozens of people find themselves in a situation where the money they had assumed was in safe keeping has disappeared.
Just last week it was revealed that the expectation is only about a third of that money will be recovered. The seniors and their families who thought they were alleviating distress and financial burdens are shocked and saddened to discover that quite the opposite is true.
I believe government has a strong role to play, not only to support those Island families who have lost money but to ensure funeral services are adequately regulated so that a similar situation never happens again.
A Green government would immediately do a number of things in this situation:
- Create a compensation fund to support the families affected by the incident at Dawson Funeral Home;
- Carry out an immediate review of the circumstances of prepaid funerals at all other funeral homes on PEI to ensure this was an isolated incident;
- Review the legislation related to all services in this sector (Funeral Services Professions Act and the Prearranged Funeral Services Act) to ensure the regulatory framework is up to date and offers sufficient protection to Islanders.
This is an issue of consumer protection which affects one of the most vulnerable populations in our community: seniors.
I am calling on the King government to provide immediate financial relief to the impacted individuals and families. I am also asking government to strengthen the regulations for funeral services to prevent such incidents in the future.
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