People are at their most vulnerable when dealing with death – whether making arrangements at need or preplanning for themselves. It is difficult to face one’s own mortality. Memorial societies believe that recognition of this defenseless state must be reflected in protection under law to prevent abuse.
In the l960’s and 1970’s the then new memorial societies, non profit and volunteer run, attracted much media and public attention. Membership grew very quickly as social attitudes began to change with respect to final arrangements and access to alternatives. Funeral homes had a different and more prominent position in Ontario communities at that time.
In the 1980’s when The Federation of Ontario Memorial Societies – Funeral Consumers Alliance (FOOMS-FCA) was founded, legislation in this sector was mainly for and by the industry. FOOMS-FCA was formed to represent the concerns of memorial societies and to act as consumer advocate in discussions with government and non-governmental agencies. The Legislation Committee of FOOMS-FCA was established in 1984.
Much of the consumer protection found in the Funeral Directors and Establishments Act 1990 was a result of many recommendations made by the Legislation Committee during the revision of the Funeral Services Act 1976 which it replaced.
In 2000 the Bereavement Services Advisory Committee (BSAC) was established to reform the Funeral Directors and Establishments Act 1990 and the Cemeteries Act Revised 1991. FOOMS-FCA participated, along with numerous representatives of funeral and cemetery businesses. FOOMS-FCA, as the only consumer advocate group with specific knowledge of how the death care sector functions, put forward many recommendations to increase consumer protection and access to alternatives, and after eleven years the Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act (2002) and Regulations, was brought into force on July 1, 2012.
A Consumer Information Guide to the Act and Regulations was published by the Ministry of Consumer Services, with input from our Legislation Committee. We will continue our efforts for more transparent and relevant death care legislation, as well as for clear consumer information in the death care sector, for the benefit of the citizens of Ontario.