Nunavut Funeral Insurance News
Jaffar Gebara, the only funeral director in Iqaluit said that he has $350,000 in unpaid invoices for burials that date back to 2013. Gebara takes care of about one body in a week; he stated that most burials are never paid.
Gebara estimated that there are 50 deaths in a year, 30 families cover a fee of $6,000 per burial on their own and most of the families cannot afford it.
Others are covered under income assistance, medical travel, or work health benefits plans. But Gebara said that he is often forgotten when the paperwork is filled out and the money comes in especially in the event of work benefits.
The city pays Gebara to dig the graves and to maintain graveyards in town. He pointed out that his $6,000 fee is about half for the casket and the rest is split between transportation, administration and corpse preparation.
Gebara added that he flies the caskets by air cargo one at a time because he does not have enough space to store them. His morgue is located at the Qikiqtani General Hospital and the business operates out of a home office.
However, the business is not doing well. Gebara closed Qikiqtani Outfitting, his clothing store last year after he invested all of his resource from the clothing store into the funeral home business. When Gebara started learning the business from Bryan Pearson, the first undertaker in the city, the territorial government covered all the burial costs but the government has since stopped catering for the costs.
In some other communities, compassionate committees come together to bury the dead at no cost to the families or at a reduced cost, but Iqaluit is different. He added that people were surprised when he started asking them for money for their service especially since they are grieving.
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