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What Government Funeral Assistance is Available if You Can't Afford End-of-Life Expenses in Canada

Marina Morgan
Marina Morgan
January 20th 2023 - 16 minute read
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Learn about government funeral assistance and other funding types if you can’t afford the expense of a funeral.

Marina Morgan

How government funeral assistance can help if you can't afford final expenses in Canada

We don’t often consider the cost of funeral arrangements until we experience the loss of a loved one and are tasked with managing their funeral arrangements. The cost of a funeral can surprise families and may add stress during an already difficult time.

From 2004-2019, funeral expenses increased 35 percent. During that time, 13 percent of campaigns created on the crowdfunding website GoFundMe were categorized as funerals, which remains one of their fastest-growing categories. In Canada, the average funeral cost is between $10,000 and $20,000, and with direct cremation, the most popular method of disposition, the price averages $5000. See more information related to funeral costs in this post about itemized funeral costs.

At Eirene, we believe everyone deserves access to dignified end-of-life care, no matter their circumstance. Families should never be in a situation where they have to crowdfund for a loved one’s funeral. That’s why we wanted to share some financial resources you may not have considered to help cover the costs of a funeral, cremation or aquamation. Most are available as government funeral assistance from public funding or via agencies that provide insurance services to workers.

Government funeral assistance by Canadian province

We have listed the various provincial programs that provide financial assistance for funerals for those in need below. The first three are the three provinces we serve with cremation services at Eirene.  The remaining provincial resources are below those sections.

Government funeral assistance in Ontario

To see a full list of Ontario funeral financial assistance programs in this article, or read the highlights below.

Ontario Works makes available government funeral assistance in ontario. The service is available to all Ontario residents to help offset the basic expenses of an arrangement for those who cannot afford it. Ontario Works may help to cover the cost of any funeral services including, but not limited to:

  • The transfer of the deceased
  • Cremation, including scattering or burial of the remains.
  • Burial plot, including plot purchase or opening/closing costs for pre-purchased plots.
  • Urn or casket

Approval for Ontario Works depends on the deceased's financial standing and considers insurance policies and assets. Once you receive approval from Ontario Works, you can begin making your arrangements with Eirene or your preferred funeral service provider. If approved, the average payout from Ontario Works is approximately $2250 but can vary depending on location and individual circumstances.

Note: You must be approved for this benefit prior to signing any contracts for funeral services.

The deceased does not have to be a recipient of Ontario Works during their lifetime to benefit from Ontario Works following their passing. However, it is important to remember that Ontario Works will be entitled to any funeral funds available in the deceased estate.

To apply for the Ontario Works benefit, those who are existing recipients can apply here. For individuals who were not recipients of Ontario Works or ODSP, the Eirene care team can support you throughout the application process. To find an Ontario Works office that serves your location, click here.

Government funeral financial assistance in Saskatchewan

The Saskatchewan Government provides a basic allowance to cover the expenses of a funeral of a person whose estate is insufficient to pay the costs of a burial or cremation. Application for assistance for funeral expenses should be made within 90 days of death at the province's Social Services department.

For a full and detailed list of programs see: Saskatchewan government funeral financial programs.

Government funeral financial assistance in Nova Scotia

The Nova Scotia government has a program that will pay up to $3,800 plus taxes for funeral expenses and related services. See this PDF on You can also see more program that Nova Scotia residents may be eligible for in this post about Nova Scotia funeral financing programs.  

Government funeral financial assistance in British Columbia

Learn about programs offer by the B.C. government and available to B.C. residents to help fund a funeral in our B.C. funeral financial assistance article

Government funeral financial assistance in Alberta

The Alberta government has a fund to help pay for basic funeral expenses for those that cannot afford them: "The Public Trustee has an agreement with the funeral homes for funeral services. When the Public Trustee administers an estate that is not large enough to pay for a funeral, the Public Trustee will confirm the amount available in the estate and ask the HFB Unit to arrange for payment of the funeral." Learn more here.

See also our full guide to Alberta Funeral Financial Assistance Programs.

Government funeral financial assistance in Manitoba

The Manitoba Employment and Income Assistance Program has a provision to assist those resident in financial need with basic funeral costs. Learn more here.

See also our full article on Manitoba funeral financial assistance.

Government funeral financial assistance in Quebec

The province of Quebec's Special Funeral Expense Benefit may be granted to someone who has paid or agreed to pay for the funeral expenses upon the death of a person. This benefit is granted if the deceased person did not have the financial resources to pay for his or her funeral expenses. The maximum amount of the special funeral benefit is $2,500. The benefit reimburses all or part of the funeral expenses. If a person qualifies for a death benefit under  Retrait Quebec which is the Quebec Pension Plan. Learn more here.

Government funeral financial assistance in New Brunswick

The New Brunswick government offers a benefit that provides assistance to applicants who need to pay for a funeral for a deceased family member. Eligibility is based on the financial situation of the deceased person as well as the financial situation of the deceased's family members. Learn more here.

See also our full guide to New Brunswick Funeral Financial Assistance Programs.

Government funeral assistance in Prince Edward Island

See what programs are available to island residents in our PEI funeral financial assistance guide. Specific information about the PEI government's Social Services funeral assistance program is here.

See also our full guide to PEI Funeral Financial Assistance Programs.

Government funeral assistance in Newfoundland and Labrador

The Newfoundland and Labrador provincial government's Income and Social Supports Division offers assistance with funeral expenses for resident that qualify. See this page for the program reference and contact info.

Government funeral assistance in Nunavut

The Nunavut territory government offers a Seniors Burial Benefit.

Government funeral assistance in Northwest Territories

Learn about NWT's funeral assistance policies here.

Government funeral assistance in Yukon

In the Yukon, the on-reserve Income Assistance Program provides funds to individuals and families who are ordinarily residents on reserve or Status First Nations living in the territory, "as a last resort where all other means of generating income to cover basic needs have been exhausted."

Canada Pension Plan Death Benefit

The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Death Benefit is a federally mandated service that provides survivors with two kinds of assistance:

  • A one-time payment to the estate on behalf of the deceased
  • A monthly pension

If approved, the deceased could receive a one-time payment of $2500, known as the death benefit to their estate. This government funeral assistance can be used to offset the cost of a funeral.

CPP reimburses the funds after you have paid for funeral arrangements. You must apply within a year of the deceased's date of passing; otherwise, you forfeit the benefits.

Survivors of the deceased could also receive a monthly pension known as the Survivors Pension or Child(ren)’s benefit. In certain circumstances, additional funding may be provided to dependents who have children (18 years or younger) enrolled in a full-time academic program.

To apply for the CPP benefit, complete the CPP Death Benefit application and the Survivor's Pension and Children’s Benefit if applicable. Be sure to include original copies of all required documentation, and then mail the application to the address indicated on the form. Payment from Service Canada takes approximately 6 to 12 weeks from the date they have received your completed application.

Worker's compensation survivor benefits in Canada

Each province in Canada has a worker's compensation board  and many offer survivor benefits. Here is a summary of what each province offers to survivor families after a worker dies on the job.

WSIB Survivors’ Benefits in Ontario

If you are a spouse or dependent of someone who has died due to a work-related illness or injury in Ontario, you may be eligible for WSIB Survivors Benefits.

(If the deceased person worked in another province when they died, see below for links to each provincial agency that administers worker benefits.)

The Ontario government agency provides four types of survivors benefits:

Survivor payments: WSIB pays spouses and/or dependent children a lump sum payment and a continuing monthly payment. The amount of these payments will be different for every claim.

Funeral and transportation costs: WSIB pays all expenses reasonably connected to burial or cremation directly. They may also pay for expenses to bring your family member home for burial.

Bereavement counselling: WSIB offers grief counselling for spouses and children. Families can request grief counselling at any time during the first year after their family member's death.

Support for spouses wanting to rejoin the workforce: WSIB provides help for spouses entering or returning to the workforce. If you think you may need this help, you must request it during the first year after your spouse's death, but their services can be delayed until it is appropriate.

If approved for the WSIB Survivors Benefit, there are three compensation structures depending on your circumstances.

Lump-sum awards: Surviving spouses are entitled to a one-time lump sum payment. For 2021, this payment is $86,211.87 plus or minus $2,155.29 depending on the age of the surviving spouse at the time of death.

The amount decreases by $2,155.29 for every year older than 40 that the spouse was at the time of the deceased’s death to a minimum of $43,105.88. The amount increases by $2,155.29 every year younger than 40 the spouse was at the time of the deceased’s passing to a maximum of $129,317.72.

Monthly awards: The minimum compensation amount payable for spouse and child is $2,039.74.The maximum earnings ceiling is $102,800.00 per year (175% of average industrial wage for Ontario).

Burial awards: WSIB pays all expenses reasonably connected to the burial. There is no maximum amount. The minimum amount payable is $3,232.94.

To obtain detailed information about compensation structures, visit the WSIB website.

Nova Scotia Workers Compensation Survivor Benefits

In the event a worker dies from a workplace injury in Nova Scotia, survivor benefits to the spouse and their dependents are provided. The beneficiaries may be entitled to the following benefits:

  • A one-time lump-sum benefit of $15,000
  • Funeral expenses up to $5,000
  • Survivor benefits for spouses and dependent children
  • Benefits for other dependents, depending on the situation
  • Survivor benefits are also only payable until age 65 — then an annuity is payable.

To learn more about survivor benefits in Nova Scotia, you can contact the Nova Scotia WCB here.

Saskatchewan Workers Compensation Survivor Benefits

Saskatchewan provides a $10,000 death benefit for a worker that dies on the job (adjusted to the Consumer Price Index since 1983) that can help pay for funeral and transportation expenses. Learn more here.

Alberta WCB benefits

See more on Alberta WCB death benefits in this Alberta Funeral Financial Assistance guide.

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. See details in our PEI Funeral Financial Assistance article.

Worker Funeral Benefits by Canadian Province

Ontario isn’t the only province that offers funding for funerals for workers who died on the job.

Here is a list of all the worker insurance plan agencies for each Canadian province. Check with each applicable government agency to see what funeral benefits they offer:

British Columbia:
New Brunswick:
Nova Scotia:
Newfoundland and Labrador:
Northwest Territories:

Last Post Fund for Veterans

The Last Post Fund is a benefit that seeks to provide Veterans with dignified funeral and/or burial arrangements, as well as a military gravestone if the deceased has insufficient funds at the time of death.

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

Depending on circumstances, assistance may 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. In this case, 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.

You can apply for the Last Post Fund benefit online or by phone, and once your application has been submitted, an LPF counsellor will contact you.

Indigenous Services Canada

Indigenous Services Canada provides a funeral and burial benefit for First Nations residents on-reserve.

Financial assistance for funerals and burials may be made available to Indigenous people who are of a lower income, and who resided on-reserve. This benefit comes from Indigenous Services Canada, and can be accessed through the deceased’s local band office or local First Nations Ontario Works office.

To apply and be considered eligible for this benefit, the estate executor must:

  • Complete an application for service for the deceased; and,
  • Provide comprehensive information on assets and banking information.
    Total costs of the funeral must not to exceed the maximum of $8,000:
  • $5,000 from the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada contribution;
  • Plus, up to $3,000 in additional expenses that family/friends/First Nations can contribute.

Note: If the family or executor contribute more than $3,000, the application will be denied. Transportation costs must not exceed $10,000.

More information about this benefit can be found here. Alternatively, you can reach out to the Ontario Native Welfare Administrators’ Association at 705-942-3157, or Indigenous Services Canada Regional Senior Programs Officer

Memorial Grant Program for First Responders

A Memorial Grant Program for First Responders is offered to the families of first responders who have died as a result of their duties. The Memorial Grant Program for First Responders will provide a one-time tax-free lump sum 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 but is in recognition of their service and sacrifice.

More information about this benefit can be found here.

Lived or Living Outside Canada

As a surviving spouse of a person who lived or worked abroad, you may be eligible for benefits from Canada or a foreign government due to a 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 for people who have lived or worked in both countries. Canada has signed social security agreements with several other countries that offer comparable pension programs.

More information on countries, eligibility, and compensation structure can be found here.

Every Canadian deserves access to dignified end-of-life care

When you choose Eirene for your cremation arrangements, our team of licensed funeral directors will help guide you through any application process and assist with selecting a payment option that suits your needs. We accept all major credit cards and Visa debit, and if you’d prefer to pay in instalments, we have partnered with Affirm payments to ensure every family has access to affordable death care.

Once approved, Affirm allows you to make time payments for your desired services with no hidden fees or late fees. Even if you are not eligible for Affirm’s payment plan, we will work with you to ensure you get the support you need.

We’re proud to offer high-quality, compassionate services that allow families to mourn their loss without worrying about finances.

Need help? Have a question?

Contact our team of experts and we will answer your query. We can also help you make funeral arrangements within government financial support guidelines. Email us at or click here for phone support.

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