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‘They rule by fear’: Greater Victoria funeral home cries foul after B.C. strips licence

Province has fined local business repeatedly over reporting methods
William Buckley, owner of CARE Funeral Services, has had his licence suspended for not meeting reporting requirements, according to Consumer Protection BC. (Bailey Moreton/News Staff)

A Langford funeral home that’s been open for decades has had its licence revoked by the B.C. consumer protection board.

Their crime? Sending reports in the wrong format.

On Dec. 7, Consumer Protection Services BC released its decision, suspending CARE Funeral Services’ because it had failed to follow a compliance order that required them to properly submit reports on its pre-need accounts – a sort of deposit someone can put down in anticipation of needing funeral services.

Business owner William Buckley contends he did meet reporting requirements when he sent a carton of documents and then a follow-up file-sharing link to the board’s office in the Uptown shopping centre in Victoria, containing all the pre-need contracts.

But the consumer board said this doesn’t meet their standard of a report, and has suspended CARE’s license as a result.

“They rule by fear and intimidation,” Buckley said. “They said to the funeral industry, this is what we want from you. Everybody else rolled over and played dead.”

Buckley said the format requirements are relatively new. Previously, the consumer protection board would send an inspector to the business to randomly inspect a portion of reports.

“While we offer a report template to make it easier for our licensed funeral businesses, they are not required to use it (although, most do). Because of the continued non-compliance by CARE Funeral Services, we eventually prescribed the format they were to use for their preneed reports to ensure we got the required information,” Tatiana Chabeaux-Smith, spokesperson for Consumer Protection BC, wrote in an email.

CARE was first given a compliance order requiring a pre-need report for its 2020 accounts back in March, when Tegan Scardillo, director of business practices and classification, said CARE did not meet its requirements for a report by supplying the pre-need contracts, saying instead that they must be amalgamated into a report. In August, CARE was issued an administrative penalty of $9,000 as well as $455 in inspection costs.

Buckley has previously butted heads with the board, who have fined him for similar reporting offences in 2020 and 2021.

In July, another funeral home in Vancouver was fined $7,500 for failing to handle human remains in their possession in a respectful manner.

“Christmas is coming,” Buckley said. “I got a total of four staff. You don’t have very much money coming in. So now, what are you going to do? You’ve invested well over a million dollars over the years, not one single complaint – I don’t know how much more bizarre you can get.”

The licence suspension means CARE is barred from providing funeral services, unless those services were part of preneed contracts entered into before Nov. 18, 2020, if CARE gets prior permission from Consumer Protection BC, a distinction that mystified Buckley. After having his reconsideration application rejected, Buckley can appeal to a higher court.

“We’ve been attempting to get CARE Funeral Services to comply with the law for a few years. All of the opportunities for the business to seek a reconsideration of the decision through our office have been exhausted. If the business comes into compliance, we will reinstate their licence. Also, CARE Funeral Services can seek a Judicial Review through the courts,” Chabeaux-Smith added.

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