Initiating the transfer of human remains
By law, a funeral provider must not provide funeral services unless the funeral provider has the authorization from the appropriate person identified in section 5 of the Cremation, Interment and Funeral Services Act (CIFSA).
A funeral provider licence, under which you operate, includes a director, officer, employee and agent of the funeral provider. By law, the funeral provider is liable for the actions of their employees or agents.
There’s a lot to know about the rules around initiating a transfer of human remains. While we encourage you to read and understand the law in full, here’s an overview to help you:
- Verbal authorization to begin funeral service is for the purposes of a first call only – accepting a verbal authorization from the legal representative of the deceased to transfer remains.
- No further funeral service arrangements are to be initiated unless under the direction of a licensed funeral director.
- Your staff can accept a verbal authorization from the appropriate representative (outlined in CIFSA section 5) only to initiate a transfer. A third-party call service, acting as your duly authorized agent, may also accept a verbal authorization from the appropriate representative for transfer. However, you, as the funeral provider, are liable for the actions of any call service because your liability extends to their staff and any agents. Put another way, unlicensed funeral home staff, and third-party call services must only accept verbal authorization for the transfer (otherwise they run the risk of offering services that can only be provided by a funeral director).
- Once the functions shift to the licensed activities of a funeral director/embalmer (i.e. making arrangements by entering into contracts, preparation of the deceased, etc.) these functions must be performed by a licensed funeral director and/or embalmer.
- In the event that you as the funeral provider, or your third-party agent, accepts an authorization to begin funeral services by telephone (as permitted under CIFSA s. 8(2)) you must create and maintain a written record of that verbal authorization at your business location that includes:
- The full name of the funeral provider’s employee, agent or other person (call received by)
- The full name of the person providing transfer authorization and their relationship to the deceased
- The telephone number of the person providing the authorization
- Location of the decedent.
- Once the human remains are transferred to the funeral home, you have now accepted liability/risks for those remains. However, if you, as the funeral provider, accepted the remains without the proper authorization, they must immediately be released, without charge, under the direction of the appropriate representative of the deceased (as identified in CIFSA section 5).
Read the Cremation, Interment and Funeral Services Act section 8(1) and 8(2) that addresses authorization requirements
Review the Cremation, Interment and Funeral Services Act section 5 for the list of who has priority to control the disposition of human or cremated remains
Read the Cremation, Interment and Funeral Services Act section 2 that speaks to employees and other agents.