Differences in Cost between Burial and Cremation in Canada

How much is a funeral or cremation in Canada going to cost?

The question of how much a funeral should cost is one that we are often asked at Canadian Funerals Online.  The question of cost is sometimes an issue that people feel uncomfortable asking a funeral director, believing that asking how much does not seem dignified.

This demonstrates just how much of a ‘distressed purchase’ a funeral is and how, culturally, we still feel uneasy about the ritual of dying.

Check out our new Guide to Cremation Costs in 2024 in Canada.

Cremation Memorial Costs in Canada

Cremation as a final disposition accounted for 78% of dispositions in 2023 and is growing.

As the funeral industry adjusts to this huge shift in Canadians choosing cremation, prices are in flux. Consumers are demanding more affordable death care options, and this can mean a loss of revenue to the funeral industry.

Cheap cremation” is now one of the most searched terms. And why should you pay thousands of dollars for a cremation service when you can arrange the same cremation for less?

With tougher economic times hitting all of us, the cost of dying has become a very important one.  Fortunately, the Internet helps people find answers to the question of cost without having to go through the discomfort of making multiple inquiries face-to-face or by telephone to funeral homes.

Historically, the funeral industry has not openly disclosed funeral prices, and many funeral home websites will not even publish a price list.  These days you can find more funeral homes providing open disclosure of funeral package prices. 

Cremation Planning in Canada 2024

However, the cost of a funeral can still vary significantly depending on where you live and which funeral services provider you use.  Be sure to check what kind of funeral business you are dealing with. 

There are corporate funeral companies operating in Canada – Service Corporation International [Branded as Dignity Memorial], Arbor Memorial, and Park Lawn Corporation. 

Although not a rule, typically, corporate funeral homes can be more expensive than family-owned funeral homes.  In the funeral industry, economies of scale do not always operate in the consumers’ favour. 

It is HIGHLY recommended that you investigate prices from more than one funeral home.

What are the average burial costs in Canada?

Difference in price for burial vs cremation in Canada 2024

When it comes to trying to establish average burial costs, the question is more “how long is a piece of string?”  There are so many considerations related to the type of casket, casket liner, vault, cemetery plot, grave marker, etc, etc. 

In the case of a burial, embalming is an additional cost, plus dressing, a viewing, vehicles required, services of a celebrant, and the list goes on. 

At a stressful time, all these questions and choices can be so daunting that the bereaved often are so overwhelmed that the stock answer is “just do a good turnout for her”. 

A “good turnout,” in the case of the price for a traditional burial, can start at around $5,000 but can quite easily amount to a cost of $15,000.

What are the average cremation costs in Canada?

Funeral costs in Canada

As a very general guide, a cremation is likely to cost a quarter of the cost of a burial. 

The cost of a simple, direct cremation in Canada can start at around $800.

Whereas a cremation with a service and extra disbursements (obit notice, viewing, funeral flowers, etc) may cost in the region of $4,500. 

As mentioned above, cremation service costs will vary depending on your province and area

For example, a low-cost cremation can be obtained in some areas of Quebec for as little as $995, in Vancouver for $845, and in Toronto for $1,695. However, in New Brunswick, a simple cremation can cost almost $3,000.

According to the Cremation Association of North America, the cremation rate was around 78% in 2023, and with this continuing to rise, it appears that cremation is by far the more popular choice for families today.

How can you arrange a simple, low-cost cremation in Canada?

Affordable Cremation Plan In Canada

Although cremation as a disposition option has been around in Canada for some time, the interest in simple, low-cost alternatives is growing.  Changing religious and cultural attitudes and the effects of the recession have resulted in more Canadians looking for less expensive and simpler alternatives to a full cremation service. 

Opting for a simple, direct cremation service

Direct cremation is becoming more popular.  A direct cremation is when the deceased is simply collected from the place of death and transferred to the funeral home or crematory for an immediate cremation. 

No service is conducted prior to the cremation [although sometimes a brief family viewing is conducted].  The cremated remains are returned to the family within a few days in a basic urn.  This is the least expensive means by which to conduct a funeral. 

Cremation Ash Scattering in Canada. Laws to know about.

It can even be arranged online today, without the need to visit somber funeral homes.  The family can then arrange their own memorial at a later date, time, and place that suits the family. 

This also puts the family in control of the memorialization process instead of paying a funeral home for this service.

As simple cremation without a service becomes more in demand, more funeral providers are competing for this market, and so the costs for a basic cremation have the potential to come down in Canada.  However, other factors, such as reducing emissions and environmental issues, may impact crematoriums and affect future cremation prices.

How to arrange an affordable funeral service on a budget

Compare cremation prices near me Canada

If cost IS an important factor in your funeral planning, I would strongly recommend considering the options between burial and cremation.  It helps to have an idea of what your funeral needs are before you contact any funeral providers. 

This way, you can be in control and ask the right questions.  There are some really good free resources on the web now that outline all the elements that constitute a funeral, be it a burial or cremation. 

Being armed with this information will enable you to ask informed questions of a possible funeral director. 

Do NOT be afraid to ask about prices, all funeral homes by law have to provide you with a general price list.  And DO compare prices for equivalent services from more than one funeral provider.  It can help to ask another family member, friend, or associate to make enquiries on your behalf once you have a clear outline of your funeral needs. 

Visit DFS Memorials to find affordable cremation service providers in your Province.

Written by

Sara has been researching & publishing content about death care in North America for some 14 years. She finds the funeral industry a fascinating sector and is passionate about helping to inform funeral consumers of the choices and alternatives available.