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B.C. funeral providers ask to be declared essential service during coronavirus pandemic

Last Updated Mar 19, 2020 at 7:32 pm PDT

Cropped shot of a man placing a white rose on a grave iStock

B.C. funeral providers are asking to be declared essential so they can continue to provide service during COVID-19

The British Columbia Funeral Association is also asking that supplies like masks and sanitizer be secured

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — Funeral directors in B.C. are asking the province to make them an essential service, and to ensure they have what they need to do their jobs safely amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Giving funeral providers this designation–which applies to first responders, health care workers, and transit operators–will allow them to stay on the job in the event that only essential services are allowed to continue.

“If we can’t have our professionals on the job working, then who is going to look after the deceased?” asks Jason Everden, head of the British Columbia Funeral Association which represents funeral directors, embalmers, crematorium operators, and cemetery workers.

“We would like to be ruled an essential service so that our employees can stay working when restrictions are put upon people. We need our staff on the ground, on the front line helping families.”

He says the association is meeting with health authorities and provincial government ministries to sort out how to keep providing the services they do, and how to keep workers protected.

Everden says one thing the association is trying to secure is additional protection for staff who will come into direct contact with people who are grieving. He would like to see face masks and a guaranteed supply of hand sanitizer for everyone working in the professions.