Although cremation is a common choice for end-of-life plans in Canada, many people are unaware of the ins and outs of the process or the nuances between cremation services offered in different parts of Canada. This article will answer some commonly asked questions about cremation in Saskatchewan.
All funeral arrangements must begin with the death being reported and registered. If this death is unexpected, emergency services should be contacted first. If the death is expected or occurs at a health care facility, staff will make initial phone calls.
A medical examiner must be notified and release the body before a funeral home can pick it up. The body will be sheltered in the facility until necessary documentation is completed.
All deaths must be registered with eHealth Saskatchewan. This is necessary to document the death with the government and obtain a death certificate.
Registering a death involves completing two documents – The Medical Certificate of Death and Registration of Death form. In addition, a burial permit must be obtained to cremate the body, and a Statement of Death may also be needed. These documents are described below.
A burial permit is required to inter or cremate human remains in Saskatchewan. A Statement of Death contains personal information about the deceased such as name, date of death, age, address, etc. Both documents are completed and submitted by a funeral director on behalf of a Saskatchewan family.
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When a body is placed in the care of a funeral provider, it is identified immediately and throughout the cremation process to ensure there are no mixups.
Identification is commonly done in two ways – tags and discs.
A tag is placed on the body (e.g., a bracelet on the wrist or ankle) that contains identifying information about the deceased. This includes name, date of birth, date of death, etc.
A disc is a small, coin-shaped tag made from stainless steel. The disc also contains identifying information about the deceased. A tag is either removed before cremation or destroyed in the process. A disc is placed in the cremation chamber but does not get destroyed. It is often placed in the urn afterwards with the ashes.
There are two types of cremation available in Saskatchewan – cremation and alkaline hydrolysis (also referred to as Aquamation by Eirene). The preparation and process differ depending on the type of cremation selected.
Cremation involves a body being exposed to heat in a retort or cremation chamber purpose-built for cremating the bodies of deceased people. Organic matter is consumed by the heat, leaving behind bone fragments and metals made from non-combustible materials (e.g., teeth fillings or surgical appliances). After a cooling period, metals are removed with a magnet and recycled. Bone fragments are reduced to create coarse grey or brown powder known as cremated remains or ashes.
To prepare for cremation, metal implants (e.g., pacemakers) that contain a battery or pose a safety risk to crematorium staff are removed. Other metals, like fillings or joint replacements, remain in the body. Combustible materials like clothes and jewelry also stay on the body.
Alkaline hydrolysis, also referred to as Aquamation by Eirene, uses the chemical process of alkaline hydrolysis to break down the remains. The body is placed in a stainless-steel vessel and exposed to heat, pressure, water, and alkali (potassium hydroxide). This creates a reaction that speeds up the rate of decomposition. The process results in bone fragments and a sterile liquid. Implants that were not removed beforehand also remain and are removed and recycled. The bone fragments are pulverized into a fine, white, or tan powder, and the liquid is disposed of as wastewater.
Medical implants are not destroyed during alkaline hydrolysis and do not need to be removed unless required by law. However, clothing materials will not break down during the process and will be removed unless it is protein-based (e.g., silk).
Saskatchewan was the first province in Canada to legalize alkaline hydrolysis. It was followed by Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador. For more information, see: Alkaline Hydrolysis in Canada.
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Embalming is not required by law in Saskatchewan. However, it may be encouraged depending on the circumstances of the funeral.
Embalming is a chemical preservation technique designed to delay decomposition and make a body more suitable for viewing. Therefore, it may be advised if there will be open casket services or if services will take place several days after death. However, refrigeration can be used instead of embalming.
Cremation has become a popular funeral option across Canada, with rates having risen over 25 per cent in the last 20 years. This trend is prevalent in Saskatchewan. According to a report by the Cremation Association of North America (CANA), provincial cremation rates have risen from 54.6 per cent in 2010 to 68.6 per cent in 2020 and are projected to reach 74.4 in 2025.
Cremation is offered at a variety of funeral homes in Saskatchewan. Funeral homes may have the facilities to handle cremations on-site or outsource to crematoriums (for flame cremation) or hydrolysis facilities (for alkaline hydrolysis).
Direct cremation refers to cremation that takes place shortly after death. This eliminates funeral services and ceremonies, such as visitation, viewing, wake, embalming, etc.
Direct cremation is offered by Eirene and other funeral providers in the province.
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Cremation costs in Saskatchewan are like the rest of Canada, falling between $1,000 and $10,000 on average. Direct cremation costs less, with rates at around $1,000 to $3,500.
The price includes the cost of cremation and other services offered by a funeral provider, such as transportation, documentation, body preparation, etc.
Additional fees such as urn purchase ($10 to $2,000) or interment in the ground ($600 to $3,500+) or columbarium ($700 to $3,500+) may add to the overall cost.
When a death occurs in Saskatchewan, it must be reported to the appropriate authorities. If it is unexpected, emergency services should be contacted immediately. They will be dispatched to the location and notify a medical examiner.
If the death is expected or occurs at a hospital, nursing home, or hospice facility, facility staff will likely handle reporting. They may also contact a funeral home for the family.
The body must be released by the medical examiner before other arrangements can be made. Once released, the body can be picked up by a funeral provider, and families can begin planning the funeral.
It is essential to report a death as soon as possible. This is because specific end-of-life arrangements may be time-sensitive (e.g., organ donation).
Yes, alkaline hydrolysis is legal and available in the province and has been available for several years.
You may see it referenced as aquamation, resomation, bio cremation, liquid cremation, green cremation, chemical cremation, and flameless cremation.
Cremation urns can be purchased from a funeral provider or online. Many retailers sell traditional urns or urn accessories, such as jewelry, vases, etc.
Eirene offers urn options in its website store at https://store.eirene.ca/. Free shipping is offered to Saskatchewan families (and families across Canada).
The Eirene care team is available 24/7 to provide expert guidance and answer any questions you may have.
Residents in Saskatchewan have a variety of provincial and federal financial assistance programs to help fund funeral arrangements. These are listed below.
As a reader of this article, this additional information may be useful to you:
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Information about the process can also be found on our site or by calling 1-888-712-5337. Our team is available 24/7. If you choose, you can also leave your contact information, and a staff member will return your call.
Yes. Preplanning is available to anyone regardless of age and is offered by many providers in the province. It is a great way to ensure end-of-life wishes are honoured or funds are available to pay for funeral arrangements.