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Dealing with a recent death is an extremely sad and stressful experience, this article outlines some of the basic requirements and legislation in Ontario governing funeral homes and what to do when a death occurs.

There are in the region of 700 Funeral Homes in Ontario, around 70 cemeteries, and 60 crematoriums in Ontario.  All Funeral Homes are listed on Canadian Funerals Online to assist you to locate a licensed local Funeral Provider at your time of need.  The Board of Funeral Services – Conseil des services funéraires, serves the public of Ontario by providing consumer information regarding the laws governing the sale and purchase of funerals.  The board also provides information on the pre-arranging of funeral services in Ontario.  Funeral directors in Ontario are governed by the Funeral Directors and Establishments Act 1990 and the Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act 2002. 

What to do when a death occurs

One of the first things you will need to do is register the death.  The attending physician or coroner supplies a Medical Certificate of Death, which should be given to the Funeral Director who collects the deceased.  Your funeral director will usually submit the Medical Certificate of Death and the Statement of Death to the local municipal clerk’s office.  After the death is formally registered, you may apply for a death certificate.  A death certificate application can be made online or in person, by mail, or by fax.  It ordinarily takes approximately 15 business days for processing plus delivery by Canada Post.  The fee is $15 or $22 depending on the type of certificate issued.

Who has the responsibility for paying for funeral arrangements?

The responsibility for making and paying for a funeral falls to the immediate next of kin if the deceased did not pre-arrange and pre-pay for a funeral plan.  This can be quite a burden and is why more seniors today are considering setting up simple cremation arrangements. 

Pre-planning can be simple and affordable, and give the family peace of mind for when the time comes.  Be aware that whomever signs the funeral contract with the funeral home is considered legally responsible for payment of the funeral bill.

Is embalming required in Ontario?

Embalming is not required by law in Ontario, and embalming does NOT prevent decomposition of the body. However embalming the body does enable mourners to view the deceased if they wish, especially if there is a delay before a funeral can be conducted.
The law does require embalming when the body is shipped into or out of Ontario or by a public carrier. 

What are my options for burial in Ontario?

If you opt for burial for your loved one, then you will require a casket or coffin.  It is possible to purchase cheap caskets in Ontario by using one of the many casket suppliers and checking prices for buying a casket online.  Most funeral homes supply caskets and this is the most expensive item of funeral merchandise, therefore there is a significant mark-up on casket prices when you buy directly from a funeral home.  It is very wise to check prices before making a commitment to purchase a casket. 

If a burial is being performed, then a burial plot will be required. Most cemeteries have their own regulations governing the erection of grave markers, so it is wise to fully check cemetery regulation before committing to any vault, grave liner, or grave marker purchases

What are my cremations options in Ontario?

If you are opting for a cremation in Ontario, then a casket or container will be required for the funeral service. Many funeral homes will offer a rental casket for the use of the funeral service, prior to cremation. A basic container can be used for cremation purposes, and a cremation urn will be required for the cremated remains.  There are a range of cremation urns available to purchase, and again a great choice of cheap cremation urns are easily available to purchase online.

In Ontario, there appears to be a misconception that the law prohibits ash scattering.  This is NOT the case, although you must carefully consider the options for the disposition of cremated remains. There is no need to obtain consent from the provincial government to scatter on Crown lands, but those wishing to scatter on municipally-owned areas of the lakeshore, municipal waterways, and parkland must gain permission from the appropriate town or city in Ontario.

Many cemeteries are now offering columbarium niches (or niche walls), which are structures that have either glass or stone fronts. A family can purchase the right to use one compartment, which is normally capable of holding two containers or urns.  Ash scattering can be performed in a variety of ways, which can uniquely memorialize the deceased.

What if the death occurs out-of-province or outside of Canada?

With the increasingly transient nature of Canadians, more Ontarians are having to deal with a death away from home.  Your funeral home can assist you by coordinating arrangements with a funeral home in the town or country of death, arranging the transportation of human remains, and the required administration.  If you need advice concerning funeral shipping please ‘click here’ to contact us. 

Who do I need to notify when a death occurs in Ontario?

Unfortunately, there are a number of agencies that need to be notified of the death of an individual, In order to ensure the estate of the deceased is properly closed, and this can be distressing for the bereaved.  The Canadian Revenue Agency should be notified for tax purposes. 

If the death was unexpected, no doctor or emergency services are available, or you have concerns about the circumstances of the death, then contact your local coroner’s office in Toronto.

Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, 18th Floor, 25 Grosvenor Street, Toronto ON M7A 1Y6
Phone: 416 326-5000 Toll free 1-866-517-0571

Who can I contact if I have a complaint or grievance with a Funeral Home in Ontario?

If you have a grievance concerning a funeral director’s services in Ontario, you should attempt to resolve this in the first instance with the funeral home concerned.  If you do not gain a satisfactory resolution, then a formal complaint may be made in writing to the Board of Funeral Services – Conseil des services funéraires:

777 Bay Street, Suite 2810, Box 117, Toronto, ON M5G 2C8, Canada