Funerals can be expensive, and unless the money has been set aside beforehand, it can be challenging to pay for desired services when a family member dies. Funeral financial assistance programs are designed to relieve some of the financial burdens for PEI families and help them fulfill their loved one's end-of-life wishes and put them to rest with dignity when they can't afford the costs. Here are the financial assistance programs available to residents of Prince Edward Island (PEI).
Some programs are a benefit to those that had had specific roles in life like serving in the military or as a first responder, others are government funeral financial assistance at the federal or provincial level to help pay for a basic funeral costs.
PEI provincial assistance programs
Here we list the various funeral funding programs available provincially in PEI. Later in this post we will also outline federal programs.
PEI's Social Assistance Program
The PEI Social Assistance Program provides financial support to individuals or families that cannot provide necessities (e.g., food, shelter, rent, etc.) for themselves or to those that meet special emergency situations of need. Assistance with funeral expenses is also offered within the program.
Eligible applicants for the program may be granted assistance to cover the costs of basic funeral or burial expenses if:
- There are no other means of meeting such costs; or
- The deceased person's estate is insufficient to cover the cost of burial or cremation.
Social Assistance can cover up to $6,000 worth of funeral expenses. Professional funeral services provided by a funeral director and embalmer (e.g., burial, cremation, visitation, etc.) will be covered up to a maximum of $5,000. Additional services are covered for up to $1,000. Additional services may include:
- Opening and closing of the grave
- Purchase of gravesite
- Media notices
- Transportation out of province
- Transportation mileage over 25 kilometres
- Oversized caskets
- Purchase of clothing
To apply for funeral expenses support, a family member or representative must demonstrate eligibility for Social Assistance or Assured Income. A Supports Coordinator, or Social Programs staff member will do this by completing a Supports Needs Assessment. To find out more about available support or begin the application process, please contact the Social Assistance Program at 1-877-569-0546.
General inquiries can also be directed to the Department of Development and Housing by phone at 902-620-3777 (Toll-free: 1-866-594-3777) or via email: DeptSDH@gov.pe.ca.
Assured Income is a program that offers financial support to individuals and families in PEI with disabilities that may not be able to provide for their basic needs and other essentials. Those eligible for the program may also qualify for funeral financial support.
The same funeral coverage and application process is used for Social Assistance and Assured Income recipients. Learn more about the Assured Income program on the PEI provincial website. General inquiries can also be directed to the Department of Development and Housing by phone at 902-620-3777 (Toll-free: 1-866-594-3777) or via email: DeptSDH@gov.pe.ca.
PEI Pension Plans
A pension plan provides a source of income for workers after retirement. Employees make contributions while working, which are set aside to fund post-work expenses.
Pension plans often include survivor benefits. These are given to a worker's spouse or dependents after they die and can be used to help cover funeral costs. Survivors usually receive the benefit as a lump sum or monthly payment after death.
Below are some of the pension plans available to PEI residents. Survivor options are outlined in each plan:
- Public Sector Pension Plan – Survivor Benefits
- Teacher's Pension Plan – Survivor Benefits
- Pension Plan for the Employees of the University of PEI – Survivor Benefit
Workers Compensation Board of PEI
If a worker dies because of a work-related injury or disease, legal spouses, children, and dependents may be eligible for support through the Worker's Compensation Board of PEI.
Benefits available to families include:
- Coverage of burial expenses to a maximum of $7,500 as of January 1, 2014 (Amount may vary each year)
- Coverage of transportation of the body from the scene of the accident to the site of burial
- Survivor benefits for the spouse as a lump sum and monthly payments
- Survivor benefits for children and dependents as monthly payments
Funeral expenses and survivor benefits are adjusted annually based on the increase in the cost of living. The adjustment will be the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index (determined by Statistics Canada) to a maximum of four per cent.
For information about survivor benefits, families are encouraged to contact the Workers Compensation Board via their contact page: https://www.wcb.pe.ca/Information/ContactUs.
Body Donation in PEI
Body donation can help reduce funeral expenses almost entirely and is a way to contribute to current and future medical professionals' research, education, and training.
PEI does not have a body donation program in the province. However, the Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia accepts donations from PEI.
If the body is accepted into the program, the university covers the costs for cremation and interment of ashes in the Dalhousie Memorial Garden or shipping of ashes to next of kin. Learn more about the body donation program on the Dalhousie University website.
While there is no designated body donation program in PEI, organ and tissue donations are accepted. Learn more on PEI's provincial website.
Airline Bereavement Fares
Bereavement fares are discounted fares offered to family members who need to fly last minute due to an immediate family member's death.
In Canada, these fares are offered by Air Canada and WestJet. Learn more about the programs at the links below:
PEI federal financial assistance programs:
The following funeral finanicial assistance programs are available to all Canadians, and include PEI residents.
Canadian Pension Plan (CPP)
The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Death Benefit provides survivors with financial support after the death of a family member.
There are three types of CPP financial support payments available:
- A one-time payment to the estate of a deceased person of $2,500, which can be used to help pay for a funeral.
- A monthly pension payable to the deceased contributor's legal spouse or common-law partner.
- 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, a deceased person must have made contributions to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) for at least ten years or one-third of the calendar years in their contributory period for the base CPP and no less than three calendar years.
A worker can apply for the CPP benefit online or in person at a Service Canada location. For more information about the application process, check out this article: How the Canada Pension Plan Death Benefit Can Help Fund a Funeral or visit the Government of Canada website.
Last Post Fund for Veterans
The Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) funeral and burial program is a benefit that helps ensure Veterans have dignified funeral or burial services. It is administered by the Last Post Fund.
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 the individual meets the criteria, eligibility will be established through financial means-testing to determine the financial need or as a "matter of right." Matter-of-right is when the Veterans Association Canada determines that the cause of death is due to service.
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 is determined before making firm arrangements 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.
Apply for the Last Post Fund benefit online or by phone at 1-800-465-7113. A LPF counsellor will respond to applications.
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 due to their duties. First responders include firefighters, paramedics, police officers, correctional officers, probation officers, and parole officers anywhere in Canada.
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.
Learn more about the Memorial Grant on the program website
Income Assistance Program (Indigenous Services Canada)
The Income Assistance program provides funds to individuals living on a reserve in Canada.
The funds support the basic needs and can cover funeral and burial costs. Clients may receive up to $3,500 and no more than $6,000 to repatriate the remains by rail, air, or vehicle transport.
To be eligible for the program, a client must demonstrate:
- They are ordinarily resident on a reserve. This means they live on the reserve or do not maintain a primary resident away from the reserve, or they 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 before receiving the medical care or social service support.
- They are eligible for basic or special financial assistance.
- They have no other source of funding to meet basic needs.
The application process varies from province to province. Learn more by contacting the local community's band office.
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 provides parents coping with the loss of a child with weekly income support.
Eligible parents receive $450 per week, paid every two weeks, for a maximum of 35 weeks over a period of two years. Recipients can choose to stop receiving the benefit or restart at any time within the two years.
Apply using the online application or by mail using the following forms:
- PYVC – Application guide
- PYVC – Employment form
- PYVC – Incident report form
- PYVC – Consent to release personal information to a designated individual
Payment begins immediately after submission for those eligible.
Lived or Living Outside Canada
If a worker lived or worked both in Canada and in another country or is a survivor of someone who has, they or their survivors may be eligible for pensions and benefits from Canada and the secondary country because of a social security agreement.
A social security agreement is an international agreement between Canada and another country 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 on this website.
Allowance for the Survivor
The Allowance for the Survivor is a monthly payment for Canadians who have lost their spouse. This program is available to people who:
- Are aged 60 to 64.
- Live in Canada.
- Have a spouse or common-law partner that has died, and since their death, they have not remarried or become a common-law partner to another person.
- Have an annual income less than the maximum annual income threshold for the Allowance for the Survivor.
The monthly amount is adjusted from time to time. Check this website for thresholds and current amounts.
To apply for this benefit, complete the steps outlined in the "Your application" section on the Allowance for the Survivor web page.
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 arrange a funeral and will work with the applicable funding program once you have qualified.
We provide cremation services in Ontario and Nova Scotia.
To make arrangements click here.
Eirene's cremation operations in PEI, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, and Alberta are planned for mid to late 2022 and are subject to regulatory approval by each province.
See also: Canadian funeral funding and financial assistance programs. You can reach us via email at email@example.com.