The Nova Scotia government has introduced legislation intended to strengthen funeral home oversight and improve the complaint process, but a widower whose wife was mistakenly cremated said Tuesday the changes don’t go far enough.
Gary Bennett told reporters while some of the legislation “was in the right direction,” more should be done to address transparency within the Nova Scotia Board of Registration of Embalmers and Funeral Directors, including opening hearings to the public.
Bennett’s late wife, Sandra, was accidentally cremated by Serenity Funeral Home in Berwick, N.S., in December. The family only found out when they discovered a stranger’s body in her casket prior to a planned visitation.
A hearing into the mix-up was announced by the board, but Bennett’s family refused to participate after being told they would appear only as witnesses and would not be able to listen to other testimony or ask questions to funeral home staff.
Bennett said he doesn’t feel the board had the whole story and it would have benefited from hearing him testify and question Serenity staff.
Hearings will remain closed under the new legislation but the government said it will work with families on a “case-by-case basis” should they want to observe one.
“It’s a legal implication for us and we just want to make sure that we’re doing this in the most accountable way,” Service Nova Scotia Minister Geoff MacLellan told reporters.