Funeral Services Funding for ODSP Recipients

Photo of casket surrounded by flowers

My grandfather passed on this week, and because he didn’t have an estate I later discovered that there are programs offered by different municipalities that cover basic funeral services for persons receiving Ontario Works, Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), low-income residents, as well as residents who do not have enough money in their estate to cover funeral expenses.

Types of Services Included

Municipalities have arrangements with funeral homes across the city where they would provide services such as:

  • Visitation
  • Transfer of Deceased
  • Direct burial
  • Cremation
  • Burial
  • Purchase of Burial Plot

What’s Required to Apply?

In the City of Toronto, you need the following documents to apply:

Whereas for the Niagara Region you need:

  • One piece of ID (Birth certification, passport, PR card, citizenship documents, driver’s license, SIN card, health card)
  • Will
  • Life insurance policy
  • Pre-paid funeral
  • Verification of current bank accounts
  • Income verification
  • Verification of assets (RRSPs, bonds, stocks, investments)

The process according to the City of Toronto Social Services caseworker only takes a day or two, so be sure to have all the documents to ensure the processing goes through. You will be asked to go in for an appointment to see a caseworker to review all the documents before the caseworker’s coordinate with the funeral home.

Some Controversy

In an article by the Toronto Star in 2010 titled Funeral Homes Subsidizing Services for the Poor, says that funeral homes can no longer afford to spend millions of dollars subsidising services at a loss to their business. I spoke with the funeral director of the funeral home in North York that serviced both my grandparents and according to the director between 5-15% of their potential clients do apply for financial support from the City of Toronto and the services they provide do come at a loss to their business.

Other Forms of Funding

If you or your loved ones contribute the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), there is a one-time, lump-sum death benefit of up to $2,500. You will have to apply for this payment and takes approximately 6 to 12 weeks to process.


My suggestion after this experience is, especially during an emotional time when a loved one has passed on to:

  • determine if financial assistance is required
  • if required, be sure to have all the proper documentation according to the city of residence and to set an appointment before working with the funeral home
  • ask all the right questions at the funeral home

Funerals can be costly and it is definitely worth being knowledgeable to what options you have for yourself and loved ones.

I am passionate about people and focused on developing meaningful opportunities for people with accessibility needs through social entrepreneurial initiatives in journalism, consulting, and arts. As a TED talks junkie, I would love to hear your story and ideas. Reach out and connect with me!



  1. Hello.I believe that we are fortunate enough to live in a country where we are looked after buy our government.It would be nice to be employed and contribute to society. Unfortunately I am unable too .I am Christian and have my Belief.Stay positive and remember this.”Pain is necessary Suffering is optional”

    • Hi Robert, well said. We are lucky to live in a country where we’re all given some resources to maintain our wellbeing.

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      • One thing I could change would be for everyone to get along with each other. No wars no hatred .It breaks my heart to see all of the negativity. That’s my wish.

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  3. Hi: My sister passed away a couple weeks ago. She was on ODSP and had no money to cover funeral home costs. No one told us until we worked with a funeral home that Canada Works would contribute significantly more than CPP. Unfortunately, because we had already started with the funeral home because they came to get her. We lost out and three sisters are having to scrounge for the money to pay. Should the funeral home not have asked some questions first?

    • Hi Jane, I can’t imagine what you and your family must be experiencing since your sisters passing.

      It seems like most funeral homes avoid mentioning the ODSP/OW funeral funding because it is considered a cost and not a profit for the business. The CPP funding is one that they would apply for on your behalf. But you are right that funeral costs can still be costly even with the CPP funds.

      This means that as family and friend caregivers we need to have difficult conversations with our loved ones on the end of life and death care planning.

      Our family has had some planning discussions in our family. For example, our mom has purchased funeral insurance that would cover the costs of funeral expenses, while my brother who is on ODSP, we’ve confirmed the process with the City of Toronto and ODSP what needs to be done upon 24hrs of death.

  4. I have a 37 year old daughter who has been in a long term care children’s & young adult facility in Kitchener since the age of 2 after having suffered severe brain damage post operatively at Sick Kids in Toronto (another story). Arrangements have already been made with a local funeral home for cremation when the time comes. She is on ODSP which has to be notified etc. She has no estate of substance. As aging parents this is a prohibitive costs as well. What is the mechanism of how Ontario Works (OW) steps in to cover the funeral costs?
    I would really appreciate your response as governments are rather opaque on these issues.

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