Cremation has exploded in popularity across Canada in the past decade, with over 70% of the population choosing it over traditional burials as the preferred end-of-life ritual.
What's fuelling the demand? The main reason crematoriums are earning more business than traditional funeral homes comes down to cost. In a general sense, cremation entails a fraction of the costs of a burial, making it a much more viable option for a larger group of people.
If you're wondering how much cremation can save you and your family, we'll explore the costs you can expect and explain a little about the cremation process along the way.
Crematorium - How They Differ from Funeral Homes
Many people don't realize how much crossover there can be between a traditional funeral with burial and cremation with a service. A funeral home can perform a wide range of services for both options, including:
- Picking up and transporting the body
- Preparing the body for a viewing
- Planning obituaries and acquiring paperwork, such as the death certificate
- Performing memorial services and supplying products
When it comes to disposition, a funeral home can arrange a cremation or traditional embalming and burial. In the case of cremation, a funeral home will often partner with a crematorium.
A funeral home charges fees along every step of the process, which is why full-service traditional burials are more expensive. You can cut out much of the costs by working directly with a crematorium in what is commonly called a "direct" or "economical" cremation.
Without a funeral home's help, cremation is a labour-intensive process. You'll be responsible for filing paperwork, obtaining permits, and arranging the final resting place. The crematorium is strictly a service for storing and cremating the body.
Cremation is the process of applying intense heat and fire to burn a body down to ashes. Leftover bone fragments then get ground into a powder.
How Does Cremation Work?
The body rests in a combustible container, such as a cardboard or wooden casket. The container then goes into a cremation chamber, an enclosed furnace where open flames and high heat incinerate anything inside. The ashes that go into the urn are not only bodily remains but also casket ashes.
The cremation remains consist primarily of whole bone pieces, which need to be pulverized to a fine powder. The ashes, which weigh around 2-3kg, are then bagged and placed in an urn or a temporary storage container.
How Is A Body Prepared for Cremation?
Unless there will be a funeral service with a viewing, a body does not need to be embalmed, making it a more eco-friendly disposal option. Instead, the body will undergo a simple cleaning before identification.
The main concern with preparation is removing medical implant devices such as pacemakers and defibrillators because they create a massive safety issue under high heat. It's safe to cremate prosthetics as long as they don't have any mechanical or battery-powered parts. You will need to remove any jewelry or keepsake so that it won't burn with the body.
How Long Does Cremation Take?
Cremation can take 1-3 hours from the time the body goes into the cremation chamber. The size of the body makes the difference in the amount of time it takes.
After cremation, the remains need time to cool down before collection, which takes another 1-2 hours.
Cremation Costs in Canada
Cremation costs in Canada vary from province to province due to different factors. Keep on reading to know more details about how the cremation costs of each province differ from others.
Cost of Cremation in Ontario
According to Canadian Funerals, a standard cremation with service in 2021 is roughly $2,884 in Ottawa. A substantial portion of that cost goes to funeral services. A direct, low-cost cremation with the casket and urn costs around $1,400-$1,700.
There are few rules regarding disposition in Ontario. The only stipulation in the process is that you must use a rigid, flammable container appropriate for cremation.
Cost of Cremation in Alberta
A cremation with service in Alberta is about as expensive as it is in Ontario, usually starting at $2,800. Low-cost direct cremation, however, is much cheaper, averaging around $1,200 in urban areas. In more rural parts of the province, direct cremations costs increase significantly.
Direct cremation includes collecting the body, performing the cremation, packaging, and returning the remains. In Alberta, the body needs to fit in a rigid container equipped with handles. You can provide a homemade container as well if it meets the minimum requirements.
Cost of Cremation in BC
British Columbia boasts one of the highest cremation rates among the provinces and some of the lowest costs.
A cremation with service costs roughly $2,200 in Vancouver, while a direct cremation can run less than $900. You can limit costs with certain crematoriums that allow families to transfer the body or provide their own rigid container.
Cost of Cremation in Manitoba
A cremation with service can vary widely in cost in Manitoba, ranging between $2,600-$3,500. Direct cost cremations start at roughly $1,000, but they can go as high as $3,000 depending on the provider. Metro areas like Winnipeg will generally have the best prices, but it's crucial to shop prices no matter where you live to find the best package to fit your budget and service needs.
Cost of Cremation of New Brunswick
In terms of cremation costs, New Brunswick is an extreme outlier relative to other provinces. Direct cremation costs can be found under $1,700, but they commonly go up to $3,000 even without a service.
Despite the high costs, the New Brunswick government offers help in paying for cremation services, providing up to $3,000 for low-income families.
Cost of Cremation in Newfoundland and Labrador
Like New Brunswick, cremation prices in Newfoundland and Labrador are high compared to the larger provinces.
Cremations with services in NL average around $6,000, which is about the cost of a standard funeral. For a low-cost direct cremation, you can still anticipate a bill over $3,000.
Cost of Cremation in Nova Scotia
A CBC Nova Scotia survey found a wide discrepancy in cremation service costs between Nova Scotia funeral homes. On the low end, a basic cremation costs around $1,200, but some providers quoted over $5,000.
As is the case across the country, the driver behind the cost difference is the level of service. Nova Scotia has lenient laws regarding cremation, giving funeral homes flexibility in pairing services and pricing.
Cost of Cremation in PEI
Although it was the most popular option across Canada by that point, only 33% of people in PEI opted for cremation in 2016. Still, their cremation numbers are rising, and funeral homes are offering more services to meet demand.
Although there are relatively few options on Prince Edward Island, the cost of cremation is reasonable. A basic cremation can cost under $1,000. A cremation with service can get more expensive, with some arrangements costing over $5,000.
Cost of Cremation in Quebec
Cremation costs vary in Quebec, but a large number of services provide several affordable options. While the average cost of direct cremations costs between $1,500-$1,700, there are available services for under $1,000. You'll find some cremations with services have costs close to those of traditional funerals, with a memorial and cremation costing up to $5,500.
Cost of Cremation in Saskatchewan
In Saskatoon, a basic cremation can get pricey, with costs averaging over $2,000. At the same time, cremations with services have a lofty average of around $3,300.
Fortunately, this isn't the case across the entire province. Other areas like Regina have direct cremation services that start under $1,000.
Lowering Cremation Costs in Canada
Despite its relatively low cost, paying for cremation can be difficult for many families. As we've seen, certain provinces can make even the most basic services a serious financial undertaking.
If you need help arranging a fitting memorial and cremation service, it's crucial to shop several quotes within your area. You may be able to save on some of the costs depending on the funeral home's policies. Some helpful questions to ask include:
- Is transportation included in the price and can I transport the body myself?
- How much does the cremation container cost and can I provide my own?
- What is the filing fee for the necessary paperwork?
- What other services are included in the price?
Beyond negotiating the funeral home's price, you can research assistance programs provided by the provincial government. People who could qualify for extra financial help include workers in certain industries, pension plan contributors, veterans, and low-income families.
The cost of your cremation and the services that come with it can often be covered under your standard life insurance plan. But if you want to help cover the cost of your cremation specifically, you can still look to funeral insurance policies for affordable plans.
A final expenses life insurance plan can be bought upfront in some cases or paid overtime as a term or whole life policy. The coverage amounts are lower than traditional life insurance plans, ranging anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000.
If you are currently on a life insurance plan that has the cost of your funeral and cremation calculated into it, you likely won't need a separate final expenses plan. But if you are older or in poor health and cannot afford the higher coverage amounts of a life insurance policy, a burial or preneed funeral policy are two excellent options for affordable premiums.
As cremation insurance, burial insurance offers flexibility in making arrangements. A lump sum is paid out to a beneficiary to cover funeral costs and any unresolved debt or expenses. Although the point is to pay for the cost of funeral services and cremation, the beneficiary can use the death benefit in any way they see fit.
Preneed Funeral Insurance
As cremation services expand across Canada, one concern is a rise in costs. In areas like Prince Edward Island, many worry that new crematoriums will cause prices to increase to those of traditional burials. And as inflation continues its steady pace, burial and cremation costs are both going to go up.
It's normally hard to tell what planning a cremation will entail in both cost and services when the time comes. That's one essential advantage of a preneed funeral insurance plan — it takes care of everything before you die.
With a preneed funeral plan, you make arrangements for your funeral with the funeral home of your choice ahead of time. In one sense, it takes the stress of planning a service off of your family during the transition after you pass away. Under a guaranteed plan, it also takes away the financial stress.
The funeral is planned upfront, and a preneed plan is also paid upfront in a lump sum or installments. A guaranteed plan ensures that if funeral prices go up after you open your plan, your family won't have to pay the difference.
Simplified Issue Plan Options
If you need a traditional payment option but need the no medical benefits of a preneed funeral policy, a simplified issue life policy can help cover cremation costs.
Simplified life insurance plans help individuals who feel that their health issues could disqualify them from traditional plans. The coverage amounts are low and the premiums are high due to the added risk, but they can be a sensible cremation insurance option for the right individual.
Explore the Benefits of Cremation
Cremation is a low-cost option to memorialize the deceased in the most meaningful way possible. There are no limits to the imaginative ways you can celebrate the memories of your loved ones, from scattering their ashes at sea to including them in a tattoo or keepsake. As the cremation industry continues to thrive in Canada, the opportunities will only get better.
When you're ready to plan your final cremation services, our team at Insurdinary will guide you through the most cost-effective insurance options to meet your goals. Contact us for more information on cremation insurance plans for you or your loved ones today.