This set of Qs&As lists answers to questions received in comments following the April 28, 2020 webcast presentation for licensees. This list does not include questions that were answered during the webcast, or that were previously answered. Please see our list of Qs&As from previous webinars. Thank you for your participation.
These Qs&As are made available to consumers/families for their information.
Q1. A number of the funeral homes have been operating on shifts, preventing staff on other shifts from being in physical contact with one another. If one staff member on a shift was infected with COVID-19, would the other shift be able to operate? The strategy has been implemented to prevent a total shutdown.
A1. The determination of whether an operator can continue to operate will be made by the local Medical Officer of Health.
Q2. If we enter a retirement home, that is attached to a long-term care (LTC) home, are we indirectly affecting the LTC?
A2. Unlike hospitals and LTC, retirement homes and hospices are not part of the Expedited Death Response process. We are informed that LTC and retirement homes are already taking steps to prevent the spread between their facilities.
Q3. Any comment on Ontario’s stage-one rollout to reopen the province and allowing more attendees at funerals?
A3. All COVID-19 restrictions and the BAO Registrar’s Directives remain in place, until further notice, during the Government of Ontario’s phased framework for reopening the province. The 10-maximum directive at funeral homes (not counting FH staff), remains in place.
Q4. As we continue to deal with COVID-19 how will Continuing Education be affected and applied this year?
A4. Continuing education requirements remain unchanged.
Q5. Can you please remind us of the date of the directive listing the number allowed at funeral homes and cemeteries, which says that this must be listed in the obituary?
A5. This was in the April 7, 2020 Registrar’s Directive.
Q6. Can our local cemeteries create a bylaw that would ban graveside services all together?
A6. Yes. While the directive requires that no more than 10 people attend a funeral in a funeral home or at a cemetery, each operator can limit the number of people to fewer than 10 to ensure the safety of the community and their staff.
Q7. A temporary salary top-up for pandemic pay for lower paid staff was announced by the Premier. Is there anything like that for the bereavement sector?
A7. Not as it stands right now.
Q8. Is a third-party embalming/transfer operator allowed to charge the funeral home more for embalming a COVID-19 deceased person? If the answer is no, then why can they charge more for embalming an infectious body, which they did before the pandemic?
A8. The contract between a funeral home (FH) and a third-party contractor has nothing to do with the contract between the FH and the consumer/family.
If the price list that the FH provides to the consumer lists a price for embalming, then that is what the consumer would pay.
It’s up to the FH to deal with the third party to whom it may be outsourcing the embalming. If the pricing and alleged gouging become an issue, the funeral establishment or transfer service operator, who entered into a contract with the consumer, will be responsible to explain the pricing and non-compliance with the pricelist – not the third-party provider.
Q9. Are families allowed to scatter ashes of a loved one who has died of COVID-19?
A9. Yes, you can scatter cremated remains of someone who has died of COVID-19. The ashes can be scattered:
– On a scattering ground in a cemetery
– Once on private property with the written consent of the landowner, and
– On Crown land and Crown land covered by water (lakes and rivers), unless there are signs prohibiting the scattering.
Q10. Are monument builders allowed to access cemeteries to install markers and monuments?
A10. Monuments services have not been identified as essential services by the Premier of Ontario’s Order. If a monument is unsafe and needs to be stabilized, then a monument builder may be allowed access.