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British Columbia Funeral Financial Assistance

Daniela Fortino
Daniela Fortino
March 4th 2024 - 14 minute read
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Learn about British Columbia funeral financial assistance, including provincial government programs, federal programs, and other funding B.C. residents can access.

Funerals in British Columbia can cost in the range of $1,000 to over $12,000. As a result, many families struggle to cover funeral expenses, even when choosing lower-cost arrangements. Funeral assistance programs can help cover these fees, allowing families to hold desired services for their loved ones. Learn about provincial and federal funeral financial assistance programs available to British Columbia residents below.

British Columbia provincial funeral assistance programs

Outlined below are provincial funeral assistance programs available to British Columbia residents. Federal programs are also discussed in this article, to scroll to them click here.

Funeral Costs Supplement

The Funeral Costs Supplement is a provincial program available to British Columbians to help pay for necessary funeral costs.

The program is available to anyone who dies in the province without sufficient funds in their estate for final arrangements. There is no requirement that the deceased person or their family be B.C. Employment and Assistance recipients to qualify. Other eligibility requirements can be found here.

Costs covered by this program may include:

  • Funeral provider service fees
  • Transportation
  • Casket
  • Burial services
  • Cremation services
  • Urn purchase

Rates for these services can be found in the General Supplements & Programs Rate Table and can include:

Learn more about the Funeral Cost Supplement on this B.C. government site.

Income Assistance

Income Assistance is a welfare program for residents of British Columbia who need or have no other resources to meet their basic needs. Funeral cost assistance may also be available to recipients and anyone with low income in the province, even if they are not on assistance.

Applicants may be eligible for Income Assistance in any of these situations if they:

  • Are out of work or not earning enough to meet your basic needs.
  • Are waiting for other sources of money to arrive.
  • Can't work at all.
  • Urgently need food, shelter or medical attention.

Apply online through "My Self Serve," call 1-866-866-0800 or visit a local office. Learn more about Income Assistance here.

Crime Victim Assistance Program

The Crime Victim Assistance Program provides financial assistance to victims, immediate family members, and some witnesses coping with the effects of violent crime. It is intended to offset financial losses and assist in recovery.

There are many benefits available to victims of crime in cases involving fatalities, including:

  • Funeral expenses
  • Bereavement leave
  • Other benefits to support spouses, children and financially dependent family members.

Application forms and instructions for the program can be found here. According to instructions on the form, applications can be submitted by email or mail. For assistance with the application process, contact the Crime Victim Assistance Program at 604-660-3888 or toll-free in B.C. at 1-866-660-3888.

In most cases, applications must be received within one year from the date the crime took place. However, extensions for the one-year limit may be granted (more information on this, here).

ICBC Auto Insurance

The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) is a provincial corporation that handles driver licensing, vehicle registration, auto insurance, etc., for British Columbia drivers.

When a vehicle accident causes a fatality, the deceased person's family may be entitled to certain benefits, including funeral expenses. With the Enhanced Accident Benefits, families may receive the following:

  • Up to $9,386 per deceased person, including taxes, for funeral or burial expenses.
  • Up to $3,925 (for each family member) per deceased person for grief counselling.
  • A minimum lump-sum payment of $68,863 to a surviving spouse or common-law partner
  • Between $32,708 to $61,680 to dependents depending on their age at the time of the deceased person's death (dependents with disabilities are entitled to an additional payment of $30,127).
  • Lump-sum payment of $15,336 to non-dependent parents and/or children (when there is no spouse, common-law partner, or dependents).

An ICBC claim representative will work with families to explain and receive the benefits and support available to them. Learn more about the fatality claim process in the "Your support guide for fatality claims" PDF. More information can be found here.

WorkSafeBC Survivor Benefits

WorkSafeBC is the workers' compensation insurer for British Columbia. It provides benefits to the family and dependents coping with the loss of a loved one due to a work-related accident or occupational disease.

Benefits may include:

  • Monthly pension benefit for the surviving spouse, based on the worker's earnings. This benefit continues for the spouse's lifetime.
  • Monthly benefit for a dependent child up to the age of 19. Benefits may continue to age 25 if the child regularly attends a post-secondary school.
  • Funeral benefits.
  • Grief and vocational counselling for the surviving spouse.
  • Grief counselling for the dependent children.

To apply for benefits, family members can contact the claims team and speak with the Sensitive Claims Coordinator. They will explain the application process. A case manager will also contact families to provide information about financial assistance and other benefits that may be available. The following information about the family member is needed:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Date of death
  • Social Insurance Number (if available)
  • Employer's name

More information about survivor benefits can be found here.

Body donation in British Columbia

Body donation is an option available to people who would like to contribute to the scientific community and assist in educating healthcare professionals after death.

British Columbians can donate their bodies to science through the Body Donation Program offered by the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia (UBC).  

Registration for the program involves completing two copies of the consent form. One copy must be returned to UBC (as instructed on the consent form), and the other should be kept by a close family member or physician. An executor or next of kin can also complete and sign an executor consent form after death. Donors can also consent to indefinite donation, meaning that the UBC can retain anatomical materials longer than the typical donation window.

At the time of death, the executor, next of kin, or health care professional must contact the UBC Donation Program at 604-822-2578. The body must be received within 72 hours of death. Staff will contact the physician and family of the deceased person to determine eligibility for donation. If accepted, the university will cover transportation costs.  

Accepted donations will remain under the program’s care for six months to three years (unless previously consented to indefinite donation). Afterwards, UBC will arrange for cremation by Alternative Funeral and Cremation Services, and the executor/next of kin will be contacted to collect the ashes. All cremated remains must be claimed at this time. The university covers the cost of cremation and simple urns.

Learn more about UBC's Body Donation Program on the university's website or in the brochure.

Pension plans in British Columbia

Pension plans supply retirement income to individuals that have made contributions while working. These plans are typically offered through the government or employers.

Included in most pension plans are survivor benefits or support for spouses and dependents of the plan holder, often received as a lump sum or monthly payment. These benefits can be used to cover funeral costs.

Below are examples of pension plans and support for survivors in British Columbia:

Airline Bereavement Fares

The following Canadian airlines offer discounted fares for family members that need to fly last minute due to the death of an immediate family member. Learn more about airline bereavement fares by clicking the links below:

Federal assistance programs available to British Columbians

Here are the federal assistance programs available to all Canadians, including B.C. residents.

Canadian Pension Plan (CPP)

The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Death Benefit provides financial support to survivors after the death of a family member.

There are three types of CPP financial support payments:

  • 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 10 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 provides a benefit to ensure Canadian veterans have dignified funeral or burial services. It is administered by the Last Post Fund (LPF).

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 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 or the person's estate makes the arrangements: When arrangements for funeral and burial are made by a veteran's estate, family, another person or 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. An LPF counsellor will respond to applications.

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 the following:

  • They are ordinarily resident on a reserve. This means they live on the reserve or do not maintain a primary residence 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 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:

Payment begins immediately after submission for those eligible.

Memorial Grant Program for First Responders

Memorial Grant Program for First Responders provides a benefit 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's 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:

The monthly amount is adjusted occasionally. 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.

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.

These related articles may also be useful to B.C. residents:

Arrange a funeral:

Eirene Cremations provides direct cremation services. For information about our service areas, please visit our locations page.

To make cremation arrangements, click here.

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.  You can reach us via email at support@eirene.ca.

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