Canada’s Ontario province pulls out the stops to help funeral home staff shortages

This article and video news story from CTV Canada explains that because of a chronic shortage of death care workers coupled with an increased number of deaths due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Bereavement Authority of Ontario (BAO) “is calling retirees into service to fill out vacancies and for the first time, it’s allowing college students to work in the industry before they have completed their studies.”

Funeral Director Joe O’Neil of O’Neil Funeral Home in London, Ontario is quoted as saying, “It’s pretty remarkable, I never seen such things in my life . . .I had a couple of really good part time people who just quit and left the funeral service altogether and said ‘all the money in the world won’t bring me back to this.'”

O’Neil also pointed out that he believes the exodus from funeral service started over a year ago when Ontario funeral directors and funeral home workers were put far down the list in qualifying for the Covid-19 vaccines.

Michelle Clarke, the Program Co-ordinator for Funeral Service Education at Humber College stated that enlisting mortuary students is a way to ensure that Ontario families are served.  She stated in the article, “Never have our students been asked to enter the field in a modified internship type capacity this early. So this is an unprecedented situation, but we are extremely grateful that if a funeral home happens to have COVID go through even some of their staff, they at least have backup.”  About 100 students total at Humber College and at College Boreal in Sudbury would be eligible to help at this time.

The BAO has also asked crematories to cremate the eligible deceased within two days in order to alleviate backlogs and has requested funeral businesses to expand hours in order to take care of Ontario families.

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1 Comment

  1. Colette Kemp on January 19, 2022 at 6:28 am

    Great to see creativity being used to combat the labor issues.

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