Justice and Consumer Affairs

Consumer protection regarding pre-purchase funeral services (10/07/09)

NB 1164

July 9, 2010

FREDERICTON (CNB) - Consumers who pre-purchase a funeral plan will be better protected because of changes to the Pre-arranged Funeral Services Act that have now been implemented.

Justice and Consumer Affairs Minister Bernard LeBlanc announced the implementation today.

"The safeguards are now in place to better to protect consumers when they buy their funeral services in advance," LeBlanc said. "The regulations ensure increased accountability by funeral providers."

When consumers purchase a pre-arranged funeral plan, the funeral provider must use a standard form of contract, issued by the department, to ensure that all the essential information is disclosed to the consumer. The funeral director must provide a receipt when the payment is made. However, the funeral director must now also provide a proof of deposit to show that the funds have been deposited in trust, in the consumer's name, at a financial institution.

"Now that this legislation has been implemented, consumers can have greater confidence that their money is safe," LeBlanc said. "Consumers should keep their standard contract, original receipt and proof of deposit in a safe place and tell a family member where to find these documents."

The changes also provide greater authority for the minister to suspend a licence when there is a serious breach of the legislation. The minister will have the authority to order a financial institution to freeze withdrawals from a trust account, when licences are suspended or cancelled. The new regulatory regime also includes two new offences: failure of a licensee to give reasonable assistance to an inspector, and hindering or obstructing an inspector.

These changes were initiated in 2006, after a review by the Auditor General, and reflect the results of consultations held with the Association for New Brunswick Embalmers, Funeral Directors and Funeral Providers.

The changes are effective July 31.

10/07/09

MEDIA CONTACT: Marc Belliveau, communications, Department of Justice and Consumer Affairs, 506-453-4138.

10/07/09