Differences in Cost between Burial and Cremation in Canada

How much is a funeral or cremation in Canada going to cost?

The question of how much a funeral should cost is one that we are often asked at Canadian Funerals Online.  The question of cost is sometimes an issue that people feel uncomfortable asking a funeral director, believing that asking “how much” does not seem dignified. This demonstrates just how much of a ‘distressed purchase’ a funeral is, and how culturally we still feel uneasy about the ritual of dying.

Yet, with tougher economic times hitting all of us, the cost of dying has become a very important one.  Fortunately, the Internet helps people find answers to the question of cost, without having to go through the discomfort of making multiple enquiries by face to face or by telephone to funeral homes.

Historically the funeral industry has not openly disclosed funeral prices, and many funeral home websites will not even publish a price list.  These days you can find more funeral homes providing open disclosure of funeral package prices.  However, the cost of a funeral can still vary significantly depending on where you live and which funeral services provider you use.  Be sure to check what kind of funeral business you are dealing with.  There are two corporate funeral companies operating in Canada – Service Corporation International [Branded as Dignity Memorial] and Arbor Memorial.  Although not a rule, typically the corporate funeral homes can be more expensive than the family-owned funeral homes.  In the funeral industry economies of scale do not always operate in the consumers’ favour.  It is HIGHLY recommended that you investigate prices from more than one funeral home.

What are average burial costs in Canada?

When it comes to trying to establish average burial costs, the question is more “how long is a piece of string?”  There are so many considerations related to the type of casket, casket liner, vault, cemetery plot, grave marker, etc, etc.  In the case of a burial, embalming is an additional cost, plus dressing, a viewing, vehicles required, services of a celebrant and the list goes on.  At a stressful time, all these questions and choices can be so daunting that the bereaved often are so overwhelmed, that the stock answer is “just do a good turnout for her”.  A “good turnout” in the case of a traditional burial can start at around $5,000 but can quite easily amount to a cost of $15,000.

What are average cremation costs in Canada?

As a very general guide a cremation is likely to cost a quarter of the cost of a burial.  A simple, direct cremation in Canada can start at around $600, whereas a cremation with a service, and extra disbursements (obit notice, viewing, funeral flowers, etc), may cost in the region of $4,500.  As mentioned above, cremation service costs will vary depending upon your province and area.  For example a low cost cremation can be obtained in some areas of Quebec for as little $587, in Vancouver for $995 and in Toronto for $1,400, whereas in New Brunswick a simple cremation can cost almost $3,000.

The cremation rate in Canada is at 65% making cremation by far the popular choice for families today.

How can you arrange a simple, low cost cremation in Canada?

Although cremation as a disposition option has been around in Canada for some time, the interest in simple, low cost alternatives is growing.  Changing religious and cultural attitudes and the effects of the recession have resulted in more Canadians looking for less expensive and simpler alternatives to a full cremation service.  Direct cremation is becoming more popular.  A direct cremation is when the deceased is simply collected from the place of death and transferred to the funeral home or crematory for an immediate cremation.  No service is conducted prior to the cremation [although sometimes a brief family viewing is conducted].  The cremated remains are returned to the family within a few days in a basic urn.  This is the least expensive means by which to conduct a funeral.  It can even be arranged online today, without the need to visit somber funeral homes.  Family can then arrange their own memorial at a later date and a time and place that suit the family.  This also puts the family in control of the memorialization process, instead of paying a funeral home for this service.

As simple cremation without a service becomes more in demand, more funeral providers are competing for this market, and so the costs for a basic cremation are coming down in Canada.

If cost IS an important factor in your funeral planning, then I would strongly recommend that you consider the options between burial and cremation.  It helps to have an idea of what your funeral needs are before you contact any funeral providers.  This way you can be in control and ask the right questions.  There are some really good free resources on the web now that outline all the elements that constitute a funeral, be it a burial or cremation.  Being armed with this information will enable you to ask informed questions of a possible funeral director.  Do NOT be afraid to ask about prices, all funeral homes by law have to provide you with a general price list.  And DO compare prices for equivalent services from more than one funeral provider.  It can help to ask another family member, friend or associate to make enquiries on your behalf once you have a clear outline of your funeral needs. 

Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland & Labrador, Northwest Territories
Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quèbec, Saskatchewan, Yukon

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(Sara Marsden) Google+

Last Revised: July 9th 2013