Mon | Sep 27, 2021

Funeral home operators tired of dead-end promise

Tufton urges them to hold strain for overdue legislation

Published:Wednesday | August 4, 2021 | 12:10 AMRasbert Turner/Gleaner Writer

The more-than-two-decade wait for promised changes to regulate the operations of funeral parlours has irked registered members of the industry.

Telbert Roberts, public relations officer of the Jamaica Association of Certified Embalmers and Funeral Home Directors, said that they are growing impatient.

The absence of universal standards in Jamaica’s funeral homes has sparked concern in recent years, with operators popping up overnight in a sector with minimal entry hurdles and inconsistent service quality.

Roberts expressed frustration about the protracted delay in establishing regulations so that rogue entities can be punished and weeded out.

“At this point, I hold no hope that this regulatory framework will ever be passed. We have been given promises, but nothing happens. It is a sad situation,” he told The Gleaner.

Roberts, who operates Roberts Funeral Home in Linstead, St Catherine, said that of the estimated 200 funeral homes in Jamaica, about one-third, or 66, of them are registered to operate and provide dignified undertaker services.

“When a man just gets a fridge and writes up a vehicle and starts burials without any training - no proper storage, no taxes, and no investigations into these illegal operations - then the problems will continue,” Roberts said.

He charged that the legal operators who are paying millions in taxes to operate were at a disadvantage against their unregistered counterparts.

Describing the upstarts as ‘suitcase operators’, Roberts insisted that those existing on the fringes of the law ought to be offered training.

Failure to implement a foolproof system through strict legislation will cause rogues to believe that substandard operations would not be held accountable, he said.

Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton acknowledged the drawn-out process but urged patience.

“I know that the legislation overdue is to come on board. It has been for a long time, but it’s not yet ready,’’ Tufton said.

rasbert.turner@gleanerjm.com