MP wants to make it easier to notify the government of a death in the family

When the mother of a staffer in Member of Parliament Bryon Wilfert’s office died several months ago, dealing with the loss was hard. But what really frustrated the staffer was the process of notifying the federal government of the death through the Service Canada website.

Wilfert said having to tell the story to different government departments like Elections Canada, Income Tax or Passport Canada about the death is unnecessary.

“You’re already in a difficult emotional state and you’re having to basically repeat the story over and over and over again,” Wilfert said.

So the Liberal MP for Richmond Hill made a few phone calls and started drafting a new bill.

Bill-632 aims to expand the mandate of Service Canada and centralize the death notification process into a single phone number.

“What I want to create is simply what I call a one-stop shop,” he said. “It’s a 1-800 approach where you’d phone in, give all the information and that would trigger that name with those details to all departments.”

Richard Farmer, vice president of financial operations at Humphrey’s Funeral Home in Toronto, says his business assists families to notify the government, but it isn’t clear exactly where the information is processed or how quickly.

2-2-2

“We will fax (the government) the information, but you don’t really know where that fax machine is,” Farmer said. “You know it’s going to a government office … but you don’t know how it’s being distributed.”

Farmer says he’ll get complaints from his clients saying they’re still receiving mail for their deceased relative. It isn’t easy for the funeral home to verify that the government received the information.

“Who’s to say that somebody at the federal government hasn’t lost the fax or misplaced it?” he said. “There’s nobody to follow up with.”

Wilfert has received plenty of support from various groups across the country. He’s been met with virtually no opposition to his proposal.

“We’re not creating a new layer of government, we’re not creating a new department,” Wilfert said. “We’re simply providing a way which will … make it easy for someone to ensure that the notifications have been done.”

Now with an upcoming federal election in May, Wilfert knows that the bill is dead and that he has to start over.

Still, he feels that the importance of an effective notification system is imperative.

“There are people on the voters list who have been dead for 10 years,” he said.