Cremation is a popular choice for end-of-life arrangements. However, some people have minimal knowledge of the cremation process and will have questions when making end-of-life decisions for themselves or a loved one. This article answers some of the most common questions about cremation in Ontario.
Below we've outlined the typical steps involved with a cremation in Ontario.
The first thing to do when someone dies in Ontario is to report the death to the appropriate authorities. Families should call the deceased person's doctor if the death is expected.
If the death is unexpected, emergency services should be called. If the family doctor or emergency services are unavailable in the area, the death should be reported to the local coroner's office. The local coroner's office or the Chief Coroner of Ontario should be contacted if the circumstances of the death are uncertain.
Once the death is reported, the deceased's family can begin making arrangements on their own or with the help of a cremation service provider.
Documentation must be completed before final disposition (cremation, aquamation or burial) or can commence. In Ontario, this includes registering the death and obtaining a burial permit. This can be completed with the help of a licensed funeral director or by a deceased person's family member (if they are not being paid).
Registering the death involves completing two documents and submitting them to the local municipal clerk's office. These include:
Learn more about these documents here.
If families handle the required documentation, the staff at the clerk's office will help them complete the paperwork required to get the burial permit. If a service provider like Eirene is used, the funeral director will oversee the process of obtaining the permit.
If the death occurs outside of Ontario, paperwork must be filed in the jurisdiction the death occurred. This must accompany the deceased person's body upon its return to Ontario. Applicable permits or paperwork is then filed with the Ontario government by a service provider before cremation, aquamation, or burial can occur.
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A proof of death certificate is provided to next of kin by a service provider such as Eirene to apply for benefits or settle an estate.
In Ontario, most end-of-life services can be handled entirely by the deceased family. However, cremation services must be conducted by a licensed crematorium. Aquamation (water cremation) can only be conducted by a licensed alkaline hydrolosis facility.
When a body arrives at a cremation facility, the staff employs identification practices to ensure bodies and ashes are not mixed up. Standard identification methods include:
Eirene matches the ID from the place of death and uses ID on the person when the body is received. This is used to compare to all paperwork. A brief identification opportunity is also offered to a family before their loved one is cremated.
There are two types of cremation – flame cremation and aquamation (alkaline hydrolysis). Both are available options in Ontario. Learn more about the legality of aquamation in this article: Where in Canada is Aquamation Legal? And learn more about what aquamation is here.
The flame cremation process can begin once all legal documentation is completed and once the body is cleared of any implants or devices, which includes the removal of personal belongings (e.g., jewelry) and implants or devices (e.g., pacemaker) that pose a risk to crematorium staff. Other materials, such as metal fillings, remain in the body and are removed from the ashes after a cooling period and recycled.
After the body is prepared, it is placed in a cremation container or remains in the original casket and placed in the cremation chamber. In the chamber, it is exposed to extreme heat (760 to 980 Celsius / 1400-1800 F), which consumes combustible material and most organic matter. Left behind are bone fragments that are pulverized to create a coarse, grey or brown powder. These are known as ashes or cremated remains.
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Aquamation also begins with preparing the body. Unlike flame cremation, medical implants do not get destroyed during the process and do not need to be removed beforehand. A provider will remove a defibrillator or pacemaker if present. Clothing must also be removed unless it is protein-based (e.g., silk).
After preparation, the body is placed in a stainless-steel container and treated with a combination of water, alkali (potassium hydroxide), heat, and pressure. This produces a reaction (alkaline hydrolysis) that speeds up the body's decomposition. When finished, bone fragments and a sterile liquid remain in the vessel. These are rinsed, and metals are removed and recycled. Bone fragments, called hydrolyzed human remains, are pulverized to a white or tan powder, and the liquid is disposed of via municipal wastewater.
Embalming is a chemical preservation practice designed to slow down decomposition and prepare a body for viewing.
Embalming is not legally required in Ontario or any other province or territory in Canada. However, legislation may require the procedure for certain circumstances, such as international transportation. It may also be recommended for viewings and visitations, but the choice is up to the family. Learn more about embalming.
Cremation has become the preferred choice in most parts of Canada, with cremation rates rising by about 25 per cent from 2000 to 2020. Provincial cremation rates have followed this trend, increasing from 57.2 per cent in 2010 to 64.3 per cent in 2020. The cremation rate in Ontario is predicted to reach 66.4 per cent by 2025 (according to the CANA Statistic Report).
The shift in popularity is mainly attributed to the cost of cremation. However, it can also offer more variety, simplicity, and flexibility.
Many arrangement services (e.g., documentation, transportation, preparation) in Ontario can be handled independently by the deceased person's family. However, cremation or aquamation must be completed by a licensed provider, crematorium, or hydrolysis facility. For details about the cremation process in some of the major Ontario cities and what to expect in each area, see the following list:
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The cost of cremation in Ontario varies depending on the type of cremation chosen and depending on the type of services and products selected. Cremation packages typically fall between $1,000 to $10,000.
More straightforward cremation options, such as direct cremation, tend to cost around $2,000 to $4,000 in the province, but a cremation with other services (e.g., viewings) are likely to be more expensive ($3,000+). End-of-life arrangements can also be more costly in heavily populated areas, such as Toronto, than in smaller towns.
Cremation costs vary between flame cremation and aquamation, but the price difference is not significant. The package pricing for aquamation falls between $2,000 to $3,000 on average, and flame cremation can range anywhere from $800 to over $3,000.
Included in cremation packages are the price for the cremation (around $500 to $700) and other services, such as documentation, body preparation, sheltering, etc. Fees may also include urn purchase ($10 to $2,000+) and interment in the ground or columbarium ($500 to $3,500+).
Learn more about prices and fees related to end-of-life arrangements in our funeral costs article.
Direct cremation refers to a simple cremation with no pre-disposition memorial services such as a viewing or visitation. The basic service provides the requirements to cremate a deceased person. Families can then make their own memorial services thereafter. This makes end-of-life arrangements more cost-effective.
Cremation in Ontario is regulated by the Bereavement Authority of Ontario (BAO). The BAO is a government delegated organization (not a government entity) that handles funeral rights and regulations under the provisions of the Funeral, Burial, and Cremation Services Act.
The Funeral, Burial, and Cremation Services Act provides regulations for final arrangement services in the province. It discusses topics such as licensing, consumer protection, code of ethics, etc. The BAO is responsible for protecting public interest and regulating and supporting licensed funeral providers.
Cremation urns can be purchased from funeral providers, retailers, or online. Note there is no legal requirement for an urn. The Eirene Urn Store offers a wide selection of urn options to suit different needs and budgets. Free shipping is available to Ontario families (and families across Canada). Check out the urn selection on our website: https://store.eirene.ca/.
The Eirene care team is available 24/7 to provide expert guidance and answer any questions you may have.
Many Ontario residents are eligible for provincial and federal financial funeral assistance programs. Examples are listed below:
Learn more about Canadian funeral financial programs by province, click here.
Direct cremation is often the lowest-cost final arrangement option in Canada because it eliminates expensive funeral services and the need for embalming.
Direct cremation packages in Ontario typically cost between $2,000 and $4,000+, with aquamation falling on the higher end of that range. Eirene offers direct cremation packages, learn more about Eirene's packages and pricing here.
Eirene’s team is available 24/7 to provide guidance and answer your questions.
Yes, preplanning cremation services in advance are available to anyone at any age in Ontario and other parts of Canada. It is an excellent way to ensure wishes are honoured, and funds are allocated to cover end-of-life arrangement fees. If you are interested in prearranging with Eirene, click here to request further information.
Cremation arrangements with Eirene can be made online or by phone. You can arrange the cremation or aquamation directly or speak to a licensed funeral director, who will guide you through the process.
Required information can be provided on our site or by calling 1-888-712-5337. Our team is available 24/7 to answer any questions you might have. You can also leave your contact information, and a staff member will return your call.
Cremated remains are commonly kept, buried, scattered, or interred in a niche in a columbarium or placed in a mausoleum. However, cremation offers more creative and unique options to do with ashes or launching them into space. Check out other options below:
As a reader of this article, this additional information may be useful to you: