10/21/2011 09:50 EDT | Updated 12/21/2011 05:12 EST

Nova Scotia proposes allowing nurse practitioners to sign death certificates

HALIFAX - The Nova Scotia government is proposing changes it says would allow families to make funeral arrangements for a loved one more quickly.

As it stands, only doctors and medical examiners are allowed to sign medical certificates of death.

Funeral directors cannot remove a body until the certificate is signed.

But the government says that can cause hardship for families in remote and rural areas, long-term residential facilities and when deaths occur at home.

Under a proposed amendment to the Vital Statistics Act, nurse practitioners and other authorized people would be able to sign the death certificate in certain circumstances.

The government says more consultation is needed, but there is strong support for the change.