A proposed amendment to the Vital Statistics Act will allow some grieving families to make arrangements more quickly after a death. The change would allow nurse practitioners and others authorized to sign medical certificates of death in certain circumstances. “Losing a loved one is painful enough,” said John MacDonell, Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. “We want to ensure that grieving families don’t have to wait, and can make arrangements as quickly as possible.” Currently, only doctors and medical examiners are allowed to sign medical certificates of death, and funeral directors cannot remove a body until the certificate is signed. This can cause hardship for families in remote and rural areas, in some long-term residential facilities and deaths at home. Early consultations indicate strong support for the proposed amendments. More consultation is needed to determine when nurse practitioners and other authorized people can sign the certificate. “Nurse practitioners will be extremely pleased with this change,” said Donna Denney, executive director of the College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia. “It will help families cope with the loss of a loved one, particularly in long-term and palliative care settings, in a more dignified and respectful manner.” There are more than 100 licensed nurse practitioners in Nova Scotia.