According to the latest Cabinet Agenda — a ministry paper tabled weekly in the House of Representatives giving updates on decisions of the Cabinet, the legislation will be known as the Public Health (Funeral Establishment and Mortuary Operations) Regulations 2014.
“These regulations are being promulgated, as there is need to govern the operations of funeral establishments and mortuary operations,” the ministry paper indicated.
“There are also major concerns relating to public health certification and environmental approvals,” it added.
Opposition members of the House of Representatives criticised the Government in April for not including funding for a new national morgue in the budget. The Opposition claimed that the situation was fuelling the growth of “suitcase undertakers” and endangering public health.
Leader of Opposition Business in the House and the Jamaica Labour Party spokesman on national security, Derrick Smith, has insisted that with Jamaica’s size and level of homicides, the issue of a national morgue should be returned to the national agenda.
He has had strong support from the party’s spokesman on local government, Desmond McKenzie, who has often expressed concern about the lack of regulations for funeral homes, and the growth in the number of operators without proper facilities.
“All you need to become an undertaker is a deep freeze,” McKenzie told House of Representatives’ Standing Finance Committee reviewing budgetary allocations for 2014/15 at Gordon House in April.
As mayor of Kingston in 2005, he had threatened that the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation would be pursuing stringent measures to deal with people operating illegal funeral parlours and mortuaries.