What if I Cannot Afford a Funeral? Is there Financial Assistance for Families?

This is something we get asked a lot here at Canadian Funerals, a funeral can be a big expense, especially if you are not prepared for it. However, it is important to remember that a dignified funeral does not have to cost you a fortune. How much you payout for funeral services is certainly not a reflection of how much you cared about someone. The most important aspect of conducting a funeral service is to enable family and friends to come together, share in the grieving process and say farewell to the one they loved. This CAN be achieved just as effectively for a minimal amount if you do your research and opt for something low-cost like a simple direct cremation. Read on for more information about Financial Assistance for a funeral.

To find a low-cost cremation near you visit DFS Memorials

In order to help you through this process we have put together some information on what options are available for financial assistance from government bodies, social services, and other fundraising alternatives.

Employment and Social Development Canada – Claiming Death Benefit payment

The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) provides contributors and their families with partial replacement of earnings in the case of retirement, disability or death. Almost everyone who works in Canada (outside of Quebec) contributes to the CPP. If you die and are a CPP contributor, the Death benefit provides a one-time payment to (or on behalf of) your estate. To qualify, the deceased must have made contributions to the CPP for at least one-third of the calendar years in their contributory period for the base CPP, but no less than 3 calendar years. The amount of the death benefit is a single payment of $2,500, and it takes approximately 6 to 12 weeks to receive this from the date Service Canada receives your completed application.

To find out more, including how and when to apply, visit the Government of Canada’s Death Benefit Guide.

How to claim WSIB Survivors’ Benefits:

The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) provide wage-loss benefits, medical coverage and support to help people get back to work after a work-related injury or illness. If you are a spouse or dependent of someone who died as a result of a workplace injury or illness (and they were covered by WSIB), you can make a claim for survivors’ benefits.

WSIB provide four types of survivors’ benefits:

  • Survivor payments: They will pay spouses and/or dependent children a lump sum payment as well as a continuing monthly payment. The amount of these payments will be different for each claim.
  • Funeral and transportation costs: They will pay all expenses reasonably connected to burial or cremation and can pay these expenses directly. They may also pay for expenses to bring your family member home for burial.
  • Bereavement counselling: They offer grief counselling for spouses and children. You can request grief counselling at any time during the first year after your family member’s death.
  • Support for spouses wanting to rejoin the workforce: They will provide help for spouses entering or returning to the workforce. If you think you may need this help, you need to request it during the first year after your spouse’s death, but these services can be delayed until it is appropriate.

For more information, visit the WSIB Benefits page.

Financial Assistance for Veterans – Last Post Fund

The Veterans Affairs Canada Funeral and Burial Program ensures that eligible Veterans receive dignified funeral and burial services. To qualify for the Program, Veterans must meet both military service and financial criteria. To meet the military service criteria, the Veteran must have been:

  • a former member of the Canadian Forces or any predecessor Naval, Army or Air Forces of Canada or Newfoundland; or
  • a Canadian Merchant Navy Veteran of the Second World War or the Korean War; or
  • an Allied Veteran who served with the Allied Forces during the Second World War or the Korean War and has also lived in Canada for at least 10 years, or lived in Canada prior to enlisting and was living in Canada at time of death. 

Visit Last Post Fund’s Funeral and Burial Program to find out more.

National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces – Assistance for CAF Members

Financial assistance is also available to assist in reducing the cost of a dignified funeral and burial for members of the Regular and Reserve forces. Refer to The Guide to Benefits, Programs, and Services for CAF Members and their Families to see if you/ your loved-one qualifies. You can also find out more here.

Financial Assistance for Indigenous people – Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC)

INAC can provide a benefit to Indigenous peoples to cover funeral and transport expenses. They can provide cover for funeral and burial costs (not exceeding $3,500) and, when necessary, costs to repatriate the body (not exceeding $6,000) by rail, air, or vehicle transport. To qualify for this benefit the client must demonstrate that he/ she is:

  1. ordinarily a resident on-reserve;
  2. eligible for basic or special financial assistance (as defined by the province or territory of residence, and confirmed by an assessment covering employability, family composition and age, and financial resources available to the household; and;
  3. able to demonstrate a requirement for IA programs and services support and demonstrate they have no other source of funding to meet basic needs.

More information can be found on the Government of Canada’s Estate services for First Nations page.

How to claim Financial Assistance from Social Services (Toronto): 

If the deceased was a resident of Toronto and receiving assistance from Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), or they do not have enough money in their estate to cover funeral expenses, then Toronto Employment and Social Services will provide help with funeral expenses. This could include paying for the transfer of the body for cremation, burial, or for a traditional funeral service. The purchase of a burial plot, or even paying for cremation and the cost of scattering the remains in a cemetery or a burial in a pre-owned plot.

To find out more, including how to apply, visit City of Toronto – Health Support

Alternative sources of Financial Assistance for funerals

In addition to the above Funeral Assistance Programs, there are various other ways of getting some support if you cannot afford a funeral for your loved one. For instance, you could reach out to your local community, church group or an even larger audience with something like a GoFundMe page.

No one is ever denied the dignity of a funeral in Canada, regardless of what financial assistance is available to them. If a family is not eligible for CPP benefits and is unable to cover the cost of a funeral, provincial or municipal governments can help fund basic funeral services – including a casket and cemetery, or cremation fees.

In most cases, this type of government assistance is offered to those already receiving financial assistance within their province. However, your funeral home will be able to guide you through the requirements in your province.

Resources:

https://dfsmemorials.com/canada.html

https://www.fsac.ca/death-benefits-and-financial-assistance

https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/publicpensions/cpp/cpp-death-benefit.html

https://www.wsib.ca/en/injured-or-ill-people/claims/wsib-benefits

https://www.sac-isc.gc.ca/eng/1100100032357/1581866877231

https://www.toronto.ca/community-people/employment-social-support/health-support/?accordion=funeral-expenses

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Andrew joined the team at Canadian Funerals in 2017. He heads up the content management for the website.