Poor vets face burial woes
Funeral directors say they subsidize expenses
Andrew Duffy, Postmedia News
Published: Thursday, October 25, 2012 (Calgary Herald)
Canadian funeral directors say they're routinely subsidizing the burials of this country's most impoverished war veterans because the federal government pays so little for the service.
Veterans Affairs Canada provides eligible veterans with up to $3,600 for funeral services through the Last Post Fund.
But that amount - it has remained unchanged for more than a decade - now covers only about half the cost of a veteran's funeral, according to the Funeral Service Association of Canada.
"It's mostly the members of our association, or the families themselves, that are making up the difference," said Phil Fredette, the association's government relations chair.
Depending on the province, Fre-dette said, it now costs between $6,500 and $9,000 to provide the funeral services mandated under the Veterans Affairs Canada Funeral and Burial Program.
Among other things, the program requires funeral directors to bury war veterans in wooden caskets of a specified quality.
Some provinces, Fredette said, now pay as much or more for funeral ser-vices through social assistance.
Nova Scotia, for instance, offers $3,800 to cover the cost of a funeral and related services for a qualifying welfare recipient.
In Ontario, many municipalities pay funeral service rates of $4,000 to $5,000 for eligible social service recipients. Ottawa increased its rates last year to $4,366.
Jean-Pierre Goyer, executive director of the non-profit Last Post Fund, said "some funeral directors are not calling us anymore, they're going right to social services."
In other cases, he said, fund administrators have to wheel and deal with funeral directors to find a way to deliver the services for the set price.
"That's what we're confronted with more and more," he said.
Canada's Economic Action Plan 2014 expands Funeral and Burial Program for modern day veterans
The Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance, tabled his tenth federal budget on February 11, 2014. In the Economic Action Plan 2014 was a specific measure aimed at expanding the Funeral and Burial Program so modern day veterans have access to a dignified funeral and burial.
The Veterans Affairs Canada Funeral and Burial Program ensures that eligible Veterans receive dignified funeral and burial services. The Program is administered by the Last Post Fund, a non-profit organization that has served Veterans since 1909.
For more information, visit the Last Post Fund website.
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