There was some confusion following a report prepared by Champlain Township Treasurer Kevin Tessier.
The report was in response to an inquiry during council’s committee-of-the-whole meeting. Council was asking about burial permits to find out whether funeral homes were registering deaths and obtaining burial permits from Champlain Township because there was no administrative fee to do so.
Tessier presented a report which indicated that the Town of Hawkesbury charges $25 plus $15 when Form 17 — for deaths which occur in other jurisdictioins — is completed. Champlain Township has not historically charged for registration of death and burial permits. Tessier reported the Township of East Hawkesbury as “not applicable”, that Casselman charges $30 for paperwork, Rockland charges $30 for local funeral homes and $40 for other funeral homes. The Township of Russell was likewise shown as “not applicable”.
Although Tessier’s report lists “death certificates” related to location of death, the township does not issue death certificates. In addition, Tessier’s indication of “location of death”, was interpreted by some councillors as place of residence of the deceased.
From discussion at the committee-of-the-whole meeting on November 3, council wanted to waive burial permit fees for residents, but possibly introduce a user fee for burial permits for non-residents.
In 2020, for example, 74 burial permits were issued. Twelve of these were related to deaths which occurred in Champlain Township, while 32 of the permits were issued for deaths which occurred in Hawkesbury, 10 were issued for deaths which occurred in North Glengarry, 13 were issued for deaths which occurred in Ottawa and seven were listed as happening in other locations.
Tessier explained that because there were hospitals in neighbouring municipalities, that it was more likely that deaths would occur in those municipalities as there is no hospital in Champlain Township.
L’Orignal Councillor André Roy held that Champlain Township was doing work for other municipalities because according to Tessier’s report, Champlain Township is currently submitting Form 17 to two neighbouring municipalities: the Town of Hawkesbury and the Township of North Glengarry, representing 68 per cent of the Form 17 completed by Champlain Township’s clerk during the past three years. Roy suggested that a fee be charged to non-residents for this service, but asked Tessier for his recommendation.
Tessier suggested asking Township Clerk Alison Collard about it as she is the person who handles the requests.
“It is sure that there is work; there is 15 minutes for one step, 10 minutes for another step and filing that is done for each case – biweekly,” Tessier said.
“We charge for commissioner of oaths work,” Tessier pointed out.
“Can we recommend but in the case of a certificate of a person deceased in Champlain we don’t charge, but for another municipality, we charge for it?” asked Roy.
West Hawkesbury Councillor Gerry Miner wanted to know if the 208 deaths from 2018, 2019 and 2020 were people from Champlain Township.
Tessier replied that 37 of the 208 deaths had occurred in Champlain Township.
“Why are we completing a certificate if they did not die here?” asked Miner.
Tessier replied that the funeral homes are supposed to get this paperwork completed in the municipality where a death had occurred, but that for reasons of distance, if it is impractical, a funeral home can register the death and obtain a burial permit in the nearest municipality.
“The last place we go is to the hospital, and we could die there, but I am still confused. The certificate of death has to be prepared, but I find it difficult that even if you die, you have to pay to have this completed. We pay taxes all our life,” said Miner.
Roy put forward a resolution. Miner seconded the resolution to charge for non-residents.
All voted in favour of the resolution.
Addressing Tessier, Champlain Township Mayor Normand Riopel summed up the resolution by stating: “You don’t charge for those in the Champlain column.”
No, replied Tessier. Form 17 is completed if residents died outside Champlain Township. The resolution says we will not charge our residents. So if someone from East Hawkesbury passes away, we charge.
“So if someone from Champlain dies in Ottawa, we don’t charge,” Riopel said.
Tessier said that no, the resolution was to charge for the township completing Form 17 — meaning that when a resident died in a municipality other than Champlain Township, the municipality would charge a fee.
Roy said that his resolution was based on the numbers in the table contained in Tessier’s report, indicating that 12 deaths occurred in the municipality in 2020.
Tessier reiterated that the numbers represented the place of death, not the place of residence of the deceased.
Miner said his impression was that he was voting for a resolution which would not charge residents of Champlain Township for burial permits.
“Am I mistaken?” Miner asked.
Yes, Tessier replied. A Form 17 could be a resident of Champlain who died in Ottawa.
“If we say we do not charge the residents of Champlain, that is a different thing. These are two separate things.
We fill out a Form 17 for a resident, even from Champlain,” Tessier said.
“What I thought I was supporting was no fee for Champlain residents,” Miner said.
Mr. Roy and Mr. Miner are not talking about the same thing, Riopel said, adding that now Mr. Miner was not supporting the resolution of Mr. Roy.
“For the 208, or the 74 for 2020 – is that all for Champlain residents?” asked Roy, referring to the total deaths registered at Champlain Township in 2020, 2019 and 2018 and latterly in 2020.
Pressed by Roy, Tessier said he had no idea of the place of residence of the deceased.
Roy added that his last point was that it is not the resident who pays but the funeral home which would pay by choosing Champlain.
“What I would say is for Form 17 . . . when the funeral home comes to Champlain, when it is easier in terms of distance, it is then that I suggest that the funeral home pay $25 for the 20 or 25 minutes used to complete the form,” Roy said.
Riopel asked Champlain Township Clerk Alison Collard to explain.
“Usually the local funeral home comes here (to Champlain Township). I would have to say it is generally for residents of Champlain. Obviously as Kevin explained, we don’t have a hospital here. Often-times the funeral home is picking up a deceased person in Hawkesbury or in Ottawa or in Alexandria. We don’t sign the death certificates, we sign burial permits. So he brings the certificate to me, I have to check the details and then issue a burial permit to allow him to proceed. It alleviates the time or the inconvenience that he (the funeral director) would have to drive back again to Ottawa or to Hawkesbury to have a burial permit issued.
For the majority of them, there is the extra paperwork that we do, because the law says… the Vital Statistics Act says, they should be going to the division registry where the person deceased, but there is provision under the act for them to come here. It is the discretion of council,” Collard explained.
“Basically, you’re saying that the majority of these are Champlain residents,” said Miner.
“I don’t have a percentage figure, I would have to say for the most part if you are dealing with a funeral home from the area it is because you have a connection to the area,” Collard said.
“So we’re not being visited from other funeral homes from the area,” Miner asked.
“The other funeral home on High Street has never been to this office, probably because they are from Hawkesbury. I have never filled a form that is from there,” Collard said.
“Mr. Mayor, I believe we have been able to determine, that predominantly, these deceased individuals are returning to our community, they’ve got some tie to our community; likely they’ve been taxpayers over time, I don’t think we need to tax them at the end here in death. Until we get evidence that it’s people outside the community that have never done their part, I think we leave this alone,” Barton said.
“The resolution is there, but the seconder did not understand the same thing,” Roy pointed out.
“I have no resolution, so that stays as is?” Riopel asked. In response to silence, the discussion ended there.
According to the Ontario government website, a Medical Certificate of Death is the form that the attending doctor or coroner completes. It outlines the cause of death. A Statement of Death is a form that the funeral director completes, usually with the help of a family member. It includes personal information about the deceased, such as family history, age at death and place of death.
These documents are submitted to the municipal clerk’s office, usually in the municipality where the death occurred.
A funeral director usually oversees the process of registering a death, but a family member can also register the death without using a funeral service provider. You must register a death before a burial permit can be issued. The permit is required for a cremation, burial or alkaline hydrolysis.
The Vital Statistics Act permits registration of death with the nearest division registrar if it is impractical to register it, by reason of distance, with the division registrar of the proper registration division.