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Ontario Funeral Financial Assistance Programs

Daniela Fortino
Daniela Fortino
September 7th 2022 - 13 minute read
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In Ontario, several funeral financial assistance programs are available. Also listed are federal programs available to Ontarians.

Funerals in Canada can cost anywhere from $1,000 to over $20,000, depending on the services selected. Paying for these costs can be challenging for many families, even if they are choosing lower cost final arrangements. Funeral assistance programs can help cover these fees and relieve some of the financial burdens for loved ones. Learn about provincial and federal funeral financial assistance programs available to Ontarians below.

For funding programs for each province in Canada, see Canada's funeral funding programs.

Ontario provincial funeral assistance programs

Discussed here are provincial funeral assistance programs available to Ontarians. Federal programs are outlined later in the article. Click here.

Ontario Works

Ontario Works is a financial assistance program that offers temporary financial and employment assistance to low-income earners and families in Ontario. It helps cover the cost of food, clothing, shelter, prescriptions, etc., while recipients prepare for and find sustainable income. Program support also extends to funeral expenses.

Ontario Works can provide up to $2,250 for funeral expenses to eligible applicants (this limit may be exceeded at the caseworker's discretion). These funds help cover the following costs:

  • Transportation of remains from place of death to funeral home.
  • Purchase of burial plot or fees associated with opening and closing (if the deceased already has a burial plot).
  • Cremation services, including scattering or burial of cremated remains.

If the deceased was already receiving support through Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), families can contact their funeral service provider to assist with applying for funeral support.

If the deceased was not a client of Ontario Works or ODSP, families can still apply for funeral assistance through the funeral provider, at an Ontario Works office, or online, as they may be eligible for support under the program's guidelines.

After applying, the application will be reviewed, and a caseworker will reach out to the family to help determine the deceased's financial situation. Ontario Works will contact the funeral home or the deceased's family to complete arrangements if approved.

Learn more about Ontario Works funeral funding in this article.

Ontario WSIB Survivor Benefits

The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) is the workplace compensation board for Ontario. It provides survivor benefits to spouses or dependents of someone who died due to a workplace injury or illness.

WSIB offers four types of survivor benefits:

  • Survivor payments. Payments are given to spouses and/or dependent children as a lump sum payment and a continuing monthly payment. The amount of these payments will be different for every claim. Widows/widowers may also be eligible for benefits.
  • For 2022, the lump sum payment is $88,539.59 plus or minus $2,213.48 for each year the spouse is over or under the age of 40.
  • The minimum monthly payment for a spouse and child is $2,094.82. Learn more about compensation amounts in this article.
  • Funeral and transportation costs. WSIB pays all expenses reasonably connected to burial or cremation. This may include fees to bring the deceased family member home for burial. The minimum amount for burial compensation is $3,0320.23. There is no maximum.
  • Bereavement counselling. WSIB offers grief counselling for spouses and children. Grief counselling can be requested anytime during the first year after the family member's death.
  • Support for spouses wanting to rejoin the workforce. WSIB provides help for spouses entering or returning to the workforce. This can be requested any time during the first year after the spouse's death. Services can be delayed until it is appropriate.

Learn more about survivor benefits on the WSIB web page or in the For Families: A Resource Guide for Survivors (PDF).  

Claims for survivor benefits can be made online. This will get the information to WSIB sooner. For assistance with submitting a claim, call 1-800-387-0750, Monday to Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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The Eirene care team is available 24/7 to provide expert guidance and answer any questions you may have.

Federal Pension Plans

Pension plans are an employment benefit that provides income after retirement. While working, individuals make contributions that are set aside to help fund needs and necessities after retirement. Pension plans are offered through employers or the government.

Many pension plans provide survivor benefits to assist spouses or dependents if the plan holder dies. These benefits are often received as a lump sum or monthly payment and can be used to pay for final arrangements.

Below are examples of survivor benefits for Ontarians:

Body Donation in Ontario

Body donation may be a final option for individuals who want to directly support the scientific community in death. Donating one's body helps current and future medical professionals train, improve skill sets, and expand their knowledge. It can also be a cost-effective funeral option.

Body donation in Ontario is made through a School of Anatomy in the province. Organ and tissue donation is made through the Trillium Gift of Life. Below are the School of Anatomy locations with body donation programs:

  • Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (Toronto)
  • Humber College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning (Toronto)
  • McMaster University (Hamilton)
  • Northern Ontario School of Medicine (Thunder Bay)
  • Queen's University (Kingston)
  • University of Guelph (Guelph)
  • University of Ottawa (Ottawa)
  • University of Toronto (Toronto)
  • University of Waterloo (Waterloo)
  • Western University (London)

Body donation programs may differ slightly at each school. However, all donors must issue consent to be part of the program. Ways to consent include:

  • Filling out a consent form (Donation of Body to School of Anatomy) available from any School of Anatomy
  • In writing, as per section 4(1) of the Gift of Life Act
  • Orally, in the presence of at least two witnesses before death
  • The next-of-kin may also give consent after death.

Acceptance of a body donation depends on the school's needs and other factors discussed here. Individuals can learn more about requirements by contacting the School of Anatomy in their area.

After completion of the program, remains are typically cremated and interred in the school's plot or returned to the family.

Airline Bereavement Fares

Airline bereavement fares are discounted fares offered to family members who need to fly last minute due to an immediate family member's death or imminent death.

To see further information about airline bereavement programs in Canada use the following links:

Federal assistance programs that are available to Ontarians

Below are the federal assistance programs available to all Canadians, including Ontarians.

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The Eirene care team is available 24/7 to provide expert guidance and answer any questions you may have.

Canadian Pension Plan (CPP)

The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Death Benefit provides survivors with financial support after a family member has died.

Under the program, there are three types of CPP financial support payments available to families:

  • A one-time payment to the estate on behalf of the deceased. The one-time payment of $2,500 can be used to help pay for a funeral.
  • A monthly pension payable to the legal spouse or common-law partner of the deceased contributor.
  • A pension payable to a dependent child under 18 or a child under 25 attending a recognized school or university.

To qualify for the CPP death benefit, the deceased person must have made contributions to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) for at least 10 years or one-third of the calendar years in their contributory period for the base CPP, and no less than three calendar years.

You can apply for the CPP benefit online or in person at a Service Canada location. Learn more about the application process in this article: How the Canada Pension Plan Death Benefit Can Help Fund a Funeral or the Government of Canada website.

Last Post Fund for Veterans

The Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) funeral and burial program is a benefit for Veterans to ensure they have dignified funeral or burial services. It is administered by the Last Post Fund, a non-profit organization.

Service eligibility for the Funeral and Burial Program extends to:

  • Canadian Armed Forces Veterans or any predecessor Naval, Army or Air Forces of Canada or Newfoundland
  • Canadian Merchant Navy Veterans of the Second World War or the Korean War
  • Allied Veterans who served with the Allied Forces during the Second World War or the Korean War

If an individual meets these criteria, eligibility will be established through financial means-testing to determine financial need or as a "matter-of-right". Matter-of-right is a situation where the Veterans Association Canada determines that the cause of death is due to service (i.e., a condition that the VAC provided a disability benefit).

Assistance will be provided in one of two ways:

  • LPF makes the arrangements: Standard funeral services may be provided when the Last Post Fund is contacted, and eligibility determined before firm arrangements are made with a funeral home. The Last Post Fund will contract directly with the funeral home within the maximum amounts set out in the Veterans Burial Regulations.
  • Family / Estate makes the arrangements: When arrangements for funeral and burial are made by a Veteran's estate, family or another person/organization, an application for reimbursement (partial or full) may be made within one year. This reimbursement is subject to the amounts set out in the Veterans Burial Regulations.

To apply for the Last Post Fund benefit, apply online or by phone at 1-800-465-7113. Once an application is submitted, a LPF counsellor will contact you.

Income Assistance Program (Indigenous Service Canada)

The Income Assistance program provides funds to individuals living on the reserve in Canada. It is a last resort when other means for covering basic needs have been exhausted. The funds support the basic needs and extends to funeral expenses.

Eligible expenditures can also include funeral and burial costs. Clients may receive up to $3,500 and no more than $6,000 to repatriate (when applicable) the remains by rail, air, or vehicle transport.

To be eligible for the program, a client must demonstrate they:

  • Are ordinarily resident on reserve in Canada
  • This means they live on the reserve or do not maintain a primary residence off the reserve, or
  • Are off reserve to obtain required medical care or social service support because there is no reasonably comparable service available on reserve and lived on reserve immediately prior to receiving the medical care or social service support.
  • Are eligible for basic or special financial assistance
  • Have no other source of funding to meet basic needs

The application process varies depending on location. You can learn more by contacting your community's band office.

Allowance for the Survivor

The Allowance for the Survivor is a monthly payment given to eligible Canadians who have lost their spouse. This program is available to people who:

To apply for this benefit, you must complete the following steps outlined on the "Your application" section on the Allowance for the Survivor webpage.

Have a question? We're here to help

The Eirene care team is available 24/7 to provide expert guidance and answer any questions you may have.

Memorial Grant Program for First Responders

A Memorial Grant Program for First Responders is a benefit offered to the families of first responders who have died as a result of their duties. This includes firefighters, police officers, paramedics, correctional, parole, or probation officers.

The program provides a one-time, tax-free direct maximum payment of $300,000 to the beneficiaries of first responders.

The Memorial Grant does not compensate beneficiaries of first responders for monetary loss (income replacement) or serve as life insurance.

More information about this benefit can be found here.

Ontarians That Lived or Were Living Outside Canada

If you have lived or worked in Canada and in another country or are a survivor of someone who has, you may be eligible for pensions and benefits from Canada or from the other country because of the social security agreement.

A social security agreement is an international agreement between Canada and another country that is designed to coordinate the pension programs of the two countries.

Canada has signed social security agreements with several countries that offer comparable pension programs. Learn more about the agreements, eligibility, and the application process here.

Canadian Benefit for Parents of Young Victims of Crime

This benefit is offered to parents or guardians who have lost a child to crime-related circumstances. It is meant to help parents that miss work or lose income when coping with the loss by providing weekly income support.

Eligible parents will be provided with payments of $450 per week, paid every 2 weeks, for a maximum of 35 weeks over a period of 2 years. Recipients can decide to stop receiving the benefit or restart at a later date any time within the 2-year period.

You can apply using the online application or by mail using the following forms:

If eligible, payment will begin immediately after submission. A Government of Canada representative will contact you if more information is required.

Need more help?

For help and answers to questions about a specific program, be sure to contact the program's administrators using the information provided above in each section.

Eirene can help you make final arrangements and will work with the applicable funding program once you have qualified.  

We provide cremation services in Ontario and Nova Scotia with regulatory applications for other provinces pending.

To make arrangements in the provinces where we provide services, click here.  

See also: Canadian funeral funding and financial assistance programs. You can reach us via email at support@eirene.ca.

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