Nova Scotia

Crematoriums warned not to do business with Sydney funeral home

As the number of missing prepaid funeral trust accounts at Chant’s funeral home continues to grow, Service Nova Scotia is warning crematoriums against providing cremation services to owner Sheldon Chant, funeral director Jill Nemis or any other representative of the business.

S.W. Chant and Son Funeral Home is being investigated for fraud

Police have asked an arson specialist to investigate what has been deemed a suspicious fire at Chant's funeral home on the evening of Feb 2.

Service Nova Scotia is warning crematoriums against providing services to a Sydney funeral home that's under investigation for fraud as the number of missing prepaid funeral trust accounts continues to grow.

The Cape Breton Regional Police launched its investigation against S.W. Chant and Son Funeral Home Ltd. after a complaint from Service Nova Scotia, which is responsible for licensing funeral homes and crematoriums on the province. 

Chant's funeral home was severely damaged in a Feb. 2 fire that was deemed suspicious. The case has been turned over to an arson investigator.

"Any licensed crematorium found to be performing contracted work on behalf of an unlicensed funeral home will be considered to be in violation of the Embalmers and Funeral Directors Act," Rodger Gregg, the registrar of embalmers and funeral directors said in a March 8 letter to crematoriums in the province.

He pointed out that Chant's funeral home licence has been suspended and the business is in the process of permanently surrendering its licence. The home is not allowed to provide funeral merchandise or services to the public and no one from the business is permitted to provide any professional services, said Gregg.

Chant's says it will support clients

On its website, Chant's funeral home says its "doors are boarded up" and it can't serve clients the way it typically does. It gives a location for a temporary office and a phone number.

"We still have an obligation and commitment to our community and fully intend to be here to support all our clients during this time," reads the post.

Marla MacInnis, a spokesperson for Service Nova Scotia, told CBC News in an email "the funeral home is still taking calls as it works to wind down operations."

She said the letter is to make crematoriums aware of the licence suspension and that it would be a violation of legislation to perform cremations for Chant's funeral home.

Money not placed in trust

Service Nova Scotia said it's found 60 pre-arranged trust contracts. Of those, it said 34 contracts totalling approximately $95,000 were not placed in trust.

Sheldon Chant is the owner of S.W. Chant and Son Funeral Home in Sydney. (S.W. Chant & Son Funeral Home)

Another eight people whose contracts total approximately $24,000 had their money refunded directly by the funeral home after contacting the government, said Service Nova Scotia.

It's still waiting for another 18 people to provide copies of their trust contracts to determine how much they're owed and where their money is.

Sheldon Chant, the owner of the funeral home, told CBC News in an email that the temporary office will be in place for four to six months and "remain open for families that have inquiries concerning pre-arrangements, insured and non-insured."

He said while the home doesn't have access to all of its records because of the fire, it is in the process of working with families to help them facilitate the transfer of arrangements to other funeral homes.

Chant also said the funeral home has been working with the province and its clients to issue trust corrections and refunds.

"We have advertised in the local paper of our new office location, our open phone lines to anyone who needs us," he said.

MacInnis said the funeral home has been directed to send funds for reimbursements to Service Nova Scotia. Once received, Service Nova Scotia will reimburse customers directly.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Yvonne Colbert

Consumer Watchdog

Yvonne Colbert has been a journalist for nearly 35 years, covering everything from human interest stories to the provincial legislature. These days she helps consumers navigate an increasingly complex marketplace and avoid getting ripped off. She invites story ideas at yvonne.colbert@cbc.ca

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