Cremation in Prince Edward Island: Questions and Answers

Cremation in Prince Edward Island: Questions and Answers
Answers about cremation in Prince Edward Island including who provides it, cost of cremation, who regulates it, and PEI cremation vs burial rates
6 minute read

When planning for a cremation service, funeral providers can be a great resource to families and help guide them through the arrangement process. However, knowing what to expect beforehand is beneficial so families can ask the right questions and make informed decisions. This article will answer common questions about cremation in Prince Edward Island (PEI).

What is the process for a cremation funeral in PEI?

Below are the steps to expect for a cremation funeral in PEI.

Reporting the death

The first thing to do when reporting a death in PEI is to contact a doctor or coroner. The doctor or coroner is required to fill out a Medical Certificate of Death and give it to a funeral director. Families must contact emergency services first if the death is unexpected or the doctor or coroner cannot be reached.

The next step is to contact a funeral home or transfer service. Funeral directors will help families register the death and make funeral arrangements.

Funeral documentation

Medical professionals and funeral directors handle most funeral documentation in PEI. The death must be registered for a cremation to take place. Below are the documents needed to register the death:

  • Medical Certificate of Death. This outlines the cause of death. A doctor or coroner must complete it.
  • Statement of Death. The funeral director completes the statement of death with the help of family members.

The funeral director must submit both forms to the local municipal clerk's office to register the death with Vital Statistics. A notification letter will be sent to the next of kin when the death is registered.  

A death certificate may be needed to apply for benefits or insurance or to complete administrative or estate tasks. Families can apply for a death certificate online after the death has been registered. It takes about 10 to 12 business days for the request to be processed.  

Body Identification

Funeral providers use different identification practices in their facilities to ensure bodies or ashes are not mixed up. Common identification methods include:

  • Tags. A tag contains identifying information about the deceased such as name, date of birth, etc. It is placed on part of the body (e.g., a bracelet on the wrist), checked throughout and removed before cremation. If it is not removed, it will be destroyed during the process.
  • Discs. This is a coin-shaped tag made from stainless steel that contains identifying information. It remains with the body and is placed in the cremation chamber. It does not get destroyed during cremation and is included in the urn with the ashes.

At Eirene, we also require a recent photograph of the deceased and/or we use tattoos, body landmarks, scars, moles etc., to aid identification.

Types of Cremation

There are two types of cremation – flame cremation and water cremation (or aquamation). Only flame cremation services are offered in PEI because water cremation is not legal in the province.

Flame cremation cremates a body by exposing it to extreme heat in a chamber (760 to 980 Celsius). All combustible and most organic matter is destroyed during the process. Left behind are bone fragments that are pulverized to create a coarse, grey or brown powder. These are known as ashes or cremated remains.  

Non-combustible materials (e.g., medical implants) that pose safety risks to crematorium staff are removed beforehand. Other metals, like fillings, remain in the body and will not be destroyed during the cremation process. These are removed from the ashes after a cooling period and recycled.

Is embalming required in PEI?

Embalming is a form of preservation that uses chemicals to halt or slow down the body's decomposition temporarily.

Embalming is not required by law in PEI or other parts of Canada. However, it may be necessary or recommended in specific scenarios, such as if the body is transported to another province or country. Some funeral providers may also require embalming if families want a viewing or visitation.

Do PEI residents prefer burial or cremation?

Many Canadians have chosen cremation as their preferred end-of-life service, with cremation rates rising from 47.7 per cent in 2000 to 73.1 in 2020. This trend is prevalent in PEI, but rates are one of the lowest in the country.

The PEI provincial cremation rate grew from 22 per cent in 2010 to 49.8 per cent in 2020. This is more than 20 per cent lower than the Canadian average in the same year (73.1 per cent). Nonetheless, cremation is becoming more popular in PEI and rates are forecasted to reach 62.2 per cent in 2025 (according to CANA Statistic Report).  

One of the main reasons for the shift toward cremation is credited to the cost. Cremation packages are often a fraction of the cost compared to burial packages and offer more flexibility and simplicity.

Where in PEI is cremation conducted?

Cremation is typically conducted at a funeral home or crematorium. Many licensed funeral providers have cremation facilities on-site, but some may outsource to crematoriums in the area.

What does cremation cost in PEI?

Although cremation rates are lower in PEI, the price range for cremation services is on par with the expected range for Canada. As rates continue to rise, more funeral providers offer cremation services to meet the growing demand.

Typically, cremation packages cost between $1,000 to $10,000. Simpler options, such as direct cremation, typically fall on the lower end of that range (around $1,000 to $3,000+), but cremation with additional services (e.g., viewing) may cost over $5,000 in PEI.

Included in cremation packages is the price for the cremation (around $500 to $700) and other funeral home services, such as documentation, body preparation, sheltering, etc. Cremation fees may also include urn purchase ($10 to $2,000+) and interment in the ground or columbarium ($500 to $3,500).  

What should I do when someone dies in PEI?

When someone dies in PEI, a doctor or coroner should be contacted if the death is expected or imminent. If the death is unexpected or the doctor or coroner cannot be contacted, families must contact emergency services first. The doctor or coroner is required to fill out a Medical Certificate of Death and give it to a funeral director.

Next, families should contact a funeral home or transfer service. Funeral directors will help families register the death and make funeral arrangements.

What is direct cremation, and is it available in PEI?

Direct cremation is a cremation service that occurs shortly after death. This option eliminates additional, more expensive services such as viewing, visitation, embalming, etc. Direct cremation is offered by several funeral providers across the province.

What is water cremation or aquamation, and is it available in PEI?

Water cremation or aquamation uses the chemical process of alkaline hydrolysis to cremate remains.

The process involves placing a body in a stainless-steel container. The body is treated with a combination of water, alkali (potassium hydroxide), heat, and pressure, which produces a reaction that speeds up the body's decomposition. When finished, bone fragments, a sterile liquid and metal implants remain in the vessel. These are rinsed, and metals are removed and recycled. Bone fragments are pulverized to a white or tan powder, and the liquid is disposed of via municipal wastewater.

Body preparation for water cremation is often simpler than flame cremation because most medical implants do not need to be removed beforehand (unless required by law). However, clothing must be removed unless it is protein-based (e.g., wool).

Water cremation is not currently legal in PEI. Learn more about legalization in this article.

Who regulates cremation in PEI?

The Prince Edward Island Funeral Services and Professions Board regulates funeral rights and services, including cremation. The board aims to protect the public's interest, facilitate apprenticeship training, ensure compliance with laws, etc. It also ensures that funeral providers follow legislation outlined in the Funeral Services and Professions Act. The act outlines regulations for licensing, apprenticeships, body preparation, transportation, and more.  

Where can I buy a cremation urn in PEI?

Cremation urns can be purchased online or directly through a funeral provider or urn retailers. Eirene offers a wide selection of urn options to suit every need and budget in its online store:  https://store.eirene.ca/. Free shipping is also available to PEI families (and families across Canada).

Is financial assistance available in PEI?

PEI residents are eligible for several provincial and federal financial assistance programs. These are listed below:

Provincial funeral assistance programs:

  • PEI Social Assistance Program
  • Assured Income
  • Pension plans
  • Workers Compensation Board survivor benefits
  • Body donation
  • Airline Bereavement Fares – Air Canada and WestJet.

Federal funeral assistance programs:

  • Canadian Pension Plan
  • Income Assistance Program (Indigenous Services Canada)
  • Last Post Fund for Veterans
  • Allowance for the Survivor
  • Memorial Grant Program for First Responders
  • Canadian Benefit for Parents of Young Victims of Crime
  • Lived or Living Outside Canada

This article discusses these programs in detail: PEI Funeral Financial Assistance.

Can I preplan a cremation funeral in PEI?

Yes, preplanning services are available to anyone in Canada. It is a great way to have a say in end-of-life services and ensure funds are available to cover funeral costs.

Questions?

You can ask our experts at Eirene questions about funerals and cremation via email at support@eirene.ca.  Eirene provides cremations services in Ontario and Nova Scotia and expects to expand into additional Canadian provinces by the end of 2022 pending provincial government approval.