SYDNEY, N.S. — The Nova Scotia Board of Registration of Embalmers and Funeral Directors says there will be a formal inquiry into the professional conduct of some of the funeral directors and/or embalmers of the former S.W. Chant and Son Funeral Home Ltd. in Sydney.
“It won’t be every licence that’s held there but we will be reviewing a couple of different individual’s licenses,” said Kortney Adams, the board’s executive manager.
“Once we are moving forward with the inquiry we’ll disclose those names at that point in time.”
The inquiry will include whether there was professional misconduct, a violation of the act and regulations that govern the profession.
Adams said Chant’s Funeral Home employed an apprentice and multiple license holders, some holding a funeral director licence, some an embalmer’s licence, and some holding both.
The individuals in question have been notified and now a date for the inquiry will be set. Adams said it probably be a couple of months before the inquiry is held due to the amount of information involved with the file, which also has to be circulated to the other parties.
The inquiry will be set for two days and witnesses will be called during the proceedings.
“They could be general members of the public, consumers, individuals that worked with them either in the funeral home or in another capacity,” she said. “It could be people that just interacted with them. There’s no set scope of who could be called. It could be any variation of people.”
Adams said directly following the inquiry the board will meet and make a decision. Typically, a decision would be made right away unless there were extenuating circumstances, she said.
When there is an inquiry and some type of misconduct or violation is determined, there could be a suspension of a licence or a licence could be revoked.
A suspension would be for a set period of time, while a revocation would see them stripped of their license indefinitely. As well, the individual could be found not at fault of any violation under the act.
In June 2018, Service Nova Scotia announced a six-month suspension of Chant's Funeral Home’s licence to sell prearranged funeral plans and permanently revoked its ability to sell trust-funds after investigating a complaint.
The funeral home’s licence was suspended following a fire at the funeral home on Feb. 2, 2019. In the meantime, over the past year, people began coming forward with complaints of prearranged funerals with Chant’s, although Service Nova Scotia said there were no funds in the funeral home’s trust account.
In February, Sheldon Chant, owner of the funeral home, informed Service Nova Scotia they would be surrendering their licence. Since that time, the licence has been officially cancelled.
Service Nova Scotia spokesperson Marla MacInnis said to date they have confirmed outstanding contracts for 42 people with the funeral home, for a value of around $123,000. MacInnis said Chant's has already refunded all the money with the exception of $4,100. She said they expect to receive the remaining funds in May.
The Cape Breton Regional Police Service earlier confirmed they’re investigating a complaint of fraud brought to them by Service Nova Scotia in September 2018.
Where that’s at, MacInnis said they don’t know at this point.
“We respect the process of the Cape Breton Regional Police and look to them to determine whether charges are warranted.”
When there is an inquiry into a funeral director or embalmer’s licence, Adams said, the person in question technically could surrender their licence. However, she said, similar to a funeral home licence with Service Nova Scotia, the individual would have to put the decision in writing and meet certain criteria.
“There would be stipulations in place and if they were to continue to perform services or act in any capacity after they surrendered their licences, it would be referred on to Cape Breton Regional Police to investigate that,” she said. “That’s a whole separate issue.”
If an individual is issued a notice of an inquiry into their licence and does not attend the proceedings, Adams said all the evidence would still be reviewed and the process would continue to move forward.
“A decision will still be made at the end of the day and they’ll be notified.”
Adams said such inquiries are rate. This is the first one this year. There were no inquiries in 2018, but there was one in 2017 in which the decision came out in 2018.
The 2017 inquiry was into the funeral director and embalmers licenses at Berwick Funeral Chapel. David Farmer, of Serenity Funeral Home and Crematorium, was found guilty of negligence and professional misconduct as a result of his role in a mixup that had a woman mistakenly cremated and another embalmed and presented to the wrong family. The board revoked his license, Farmer will no longer be allowed to work as a funeral director or embalmer.