Click here to see the CBC story and the video.
A CBC news reporter witnessed the incident on Monday Sept. 9, 2019, and posted the story and video the next day.
CBC reported that a man in dark clothing searched inside the darkened refrigerated trailer for the body he had come to collect. “A source told CBC News the man was a funeral home employee.”
Seventeen bodies, sheathed in white bags, lined the floor of the refrigerated semi-trailer parked in a lot behind the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in south Edmonton.
Once the funeral home worker found the body bag he was looking for, he grabbed the foot end with both hands ande dragged the body about half the trailer’s length.
After climbing down a ladder, he tugged on the body repeatedly to slide it onto an elevated gurney.
CBC said the Office of the Medical Examiner (OCME) took the unusual step of renting a refrigerated trailer to store bodies, in response to a sudden influx that overwhelmed the Edmonton facility’s storage capacity.
“Dignity is expected to be shown at all times to the deceased, and the OCME guidelines appear to not have been followed,” Dan Laville, a spokesperson for Alberta Justice, told CBC News.
“It is always a priority of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to ensure the deceased in their care are treated with the utmost dignity and respect. The claims of how one of the deceased in our care was handled are very concerning, and we are currently investigating.”
Alberta Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer told CBC he was disturbed by what he saw on the video.
“All Albertans, living or deceased, have the right to be treated with dignity, and any disrespect for the deceased or their loved ones is not reflective of our values,” Schweitzer said.
“I have directed my department to investigate the matter and have been assured by the chief medical examiner that additional steps are being taken to ensure that the deceased are treated with the respect they deserve.”
The Alberta Justice ministry has launched an investigation into the incident, and issued an apology to families:
“First and foremost, we extend our apologies to all families who entrust their loved ones to us. The importance of your loved one is why their dignified and respectful treatment is so important to us, and why multiple steps are being taken to ensure this treatment is provided to every deceased person in our care.”
Consumer Protection BC has online information for consumers about the requirements of funeral homes in B.C. Click here to read about those rights.
“Making funeral arrangements can be overwhelming and very difficult, whether you are planning ahead or not,” says the Consumer Protection website.
“Certain aspects of funerals services are regulated in BC to protect you during a vulnerable time. Funeral homes and funeral directors must hold a licence with us, be trained and meet certain requirements.”