Costs and Assistance

When a death occurs, the matter of funeral costs is often a consideration of the family and those making arrangements. Costs will vary greatly depending on the choices made.

The majority of costs are represented by professional service, merchandise, final disposition and indirect costs. Each complete funeral service requires approximately 80 hours. Services should be arranged according to each individual family’s needs and their personal and religious desires.

Note: all funeral providers are required by law to provide you with an itemized price list of the services and products they offer. They must also provide you with a copy of this price list upon request​​.

Understanding funeral costs

These are some of the considerations which will impact the overall cost of funeral arrangements:

1. Professional service fee

The service fee will cover the cost of many possible services including:

  • Professional and personal staff services of a funeral director and staff typically include: transfer from place of death, obtaining medical certificate of death, completing government forms, registering the death, and obtaining the necessary permits.
  • Basic sanitary care of the deceased; embalming, restoration and dressing of the deceased for viewing (if requested); and or as required (e.g. transportation by air). 
  • The funeral services contract must include a statement that embalming is not a legal requirement and, if embalming is requested, a space for the written acknowledgement of the purchaser must be on the contract. Note: embalming may be required if being transported after 72 hours.
  • Complete personal supervision of all service arrangement details preceding, during and following the services including: arrangement conference with family; preparation and placing of obituary notice, consultation with clergy, cemetery and/or crematorium; and arranging and caring for floral tributes.
  • Use of funeral home and all necessary facilities including: arrangement office, reception areas, chapel, selection room, preparation room, parking and services areas. Use of all specialized equipment required for either a church, chapel or other type of service. Use of funeral coach and any other vehicles.
  • Transfer of deceased to crematorium and/or cemetery
2. Merchandise

The merchandise purchased for a cremation or burial can vary greatly depending on individual preferences and needs. Funeral providers that have containers and caskets on display are required by law to display their lowest price container and casket. They are also required to have a book or brochure illustrating the entire product line of caskets for sale. Merchandise could include:

  • Cremation container/casket
  • Urn for cremated remains
  • Stationery (memorial book, thank you cards, service folders)
3. Cemetery and/or crematorium

Cemetery and crematorium charges may be paid to the funeral provider or directly to the cemetery/crematorium. Regardless, authorization for disposition must still be obtained from the legal representative of the deceased.

4. Indirect costs (or cash disbursements)

Indirect costs or cash disbursements are moneys that the funeral provider pays out (advances) on your behalf, for such items or services such as:

  • Obituary notices
  • Organist, soloist
  • Flowers
  • Clergy or officiant honourariums
Death benefits and financial assistance

There are a number of programs which may offer financial assistance:

Programs & services

Canada Pension Plan – Survivor & Death Benefits

The Canada Pension Plan, Income Security Programs provides the contributor both survivor benefits and a lump sum death benefit.

Crime Victim Assistance Program

Under the Crime Victim Assistance Program, immediate family members of an injured or deceased victim, and some witnesses may be eligible for financial assistance or benefits relating to crimes which occurred in B.C.

Insurance Corporation of B.C.

If an insured person is killed in a motor vehicle crash, Basic Autoplan will reimburse burial and funeral expenses of up to $2,500.

Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation

The Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation may pay funeral service costs for persons who die in B.C. if there are no immediate sources of funds or assets available to meet those costs.

National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces

The overall co-ordination of funeral and burial arrangements of currently serving members on paid service, in accordance with the wishes of the executor or personal representative named in the Will, and consistent with current regulations and orders, is usually the responsibility of the unit. Assistance may be available for funeral and burial costs as well as next of kin travel arrangements.

Public Guardian & Trustee of B.C.

The Public Guardian & Trustee administers the estates of deceased and missing persons where there is no one else able to do so.

Last Post Fund / Veteran Affairs Canada

The Last Post Fund delivers the Veterans Affairs Canada Funeral & Burial Program which offers assistance with funeral, burial and grave marking for Veterans who meet the financial and service criteria. All Veterans who served in the Cdn military (WW2, Korea, Regular and Reserve Forces) are now service eligible. Allied Veterans who served with the Allied Forces during WW2 or the Korean War and lived in Canada for at least 10 years, and was living in Canada at time of death are service eligible. To qualify financially for assistance, a means-test or evaluation of net assets of the estate must be declared. Contact the Last Post Fund at their Toll Free number: (800) 465-7113.

Work Related Death or Terminal Illness

WorkSafe BC provides a booklet presenting information on financial and other assistance available from the WCB, and lists resources that may be helpful following a work-related death.

Workers’ Compensation Board Death Benefits

Chapter 8 of the Rehabilitation and Claims Manual provides information for compensation on death of a worker including funeral and other death benefits. Where compensation is payable as the result of an injury resulting in death, an amount for funeral expenses is paid in addition to any other compensation payable.

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British Columbia Funeral Association
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