Sun | Jun 7, 2020

Gleaner Editors' Forum | Free-for-all with the dead - Easier to become a funeral director than a registered taxi driver

Published:Friday | July 13, 2018 | 12:00 AMSasha-Kaye Kemble
Members of Jamaica Association of Certified Embalmers and Funeral Directors at a recent Gleaner Editors’ Forum, (from left) Telbert Roberts, Calvin Lyn, Patrick Williams, Stephanie Morgan, Gordon Chuck and Alvin Davis.

With successive administrations failing to implement tougher measures to regulate the funeral industry, there are growing concerns over the ease with which untrained persons continue to enter the sector.

"It is far easier to register as an entity offering funeral services here in Jamaica than it is to get a red plate for a taxi, and that's a fact," said Patrick Williams, vice-president of the Jamaica Association of Certified Embalmers and Funeral Directors.

Williams and his association have been leading the charge for stricter regulations governing the sector, and Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton has promised that legislation should be in place shortly.

According to Tufton, the legislation is now with the Chief Parliamentary Counsel for drafting.


Standards needed


But during a Gleaner Editors' Forum at the company's North Street, Kingston offices last Thursday, Williams pointed to the urgent need for the legislation, as he noted that taxis are required to be of a certain standard and follow rules and regulations, while funeral providers are not required to follow any such procedure.

"The taxi has an association and you have to comply, your vehicle has to be of a certain standard, and they have rules and regulations that are governed by the Transport Authority, and they have to comply. If they are operating contrary to the rules their taxis will be towed," said Williams.

He noted that there is no difficulty in registering a funeral director as all that is needed is for an individual to go to the Registrar of Companies and pay the required fees.

President of the Jamaica Association of Certified Embalmers and Funeral Directors Association, Calvin Lyn, told the forum that the ease of the registration process has resulted in many persons entering the industry with little or no knowledge about the proper procedures to care for the dead.

According to Lyn, oftentimes these untrained persons fail to follow the proper rules to prepare the dead for burial.