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:
- Transfer of Deceased
- Direct burial
- Purchase of Burial Plot
What’s Required to Apply?
In the City of Toronto, you need the following documents to apply:
- Canadian Citizenship Certificate
- SIN Card
- OHIP Health Card
- Last Month’s Bank Statement
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)
- 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.
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.