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

Help with cremation costs near me Canada

We get asked this 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 pay for funeral services does not reflect how much you care 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

To help you through this process, we have gathered some information on the options available for financial assistance from government bodies, social services, and other fundraising alternatives.

To check and compare affordable direct cremation services near you – Visit our Guide to Cremation Costs in Canada 2024.

Employment and Social Development Canada – Claiming Death Benefit payment

The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) provides contributors and their families with partial replacement of earnings for 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 contributed 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.

Help with cremation or funeral costs in Canada

How to claim WSIB Survivors’ Benefits:

The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) provides wage-loss benefits, medical coverage, and support to help people return 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 claim survivors’ benefits.

WSIB provides four types of survivor’s benefits:

  • Survivor payments: These payments will differ for each claim, but they will pay spouses and/or dependent children a lump sum and a continuing monthly payment.
  • 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 help 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.

Free cremation with Body Donation in Canada

Financial Assistance for Veterans – Last Post Fund

The Veterans Affairs Canada Funeral and Burial Program ensures 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 before enlisting and was living in Canada at the 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 reduce 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 cover 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 funding source 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): 

Social assistance for a cremation funeral in Canada

If the deceased was a resident of Toronto and receiving assistance from Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), or if they did not have enough money in their estate to cover funeral expenses, Toronto Employment and Social Services will help with funeral expenses.

This could include paying for the body transfer for cremation, burial, or 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 burying them in a pre-owned plot.

To learn more, including how to apply, visit the City of Toronto – Health Support.

Alternative sources of Financial Assistance for funerals

Affordable Cremation Service Options Canada

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.

In Canada, no one is ever denied the dignity of a funeral, regardless of what financial assistance is available to them.

If a family is not eligible for CPP benefits and cannot afford a funeral, provincial or municipal governments can help fund basic funeral services, including a casket, cemetery plot, 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 can guide you through the requirements 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.