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Family-Led Death Care

Family-Led Death Care

“Family-led Death Care” defined: A family member may provide funeral services, including transport, documentation including death registration, and body care, without a license and for no charge.

Family members can legally provide funeral services without a licence, except for arterial embalming, for their deceased loved one. They cannot be paid for this service.

This includes transportation, documentation including death registration, obtaining  a Coroner’s Cremation Certificate (required for all cremations) or Out of Province Certificate (if a body will cross a provincial boundary for disposition) or arranging religious or personal ceremonies to mark the death.

While it is possible for family members to provide these services without a license, in some cases it may be advisable for family members to seek the services of a licensed funeral establishment or transfer service for some aspects of funeral arrangements.  For example; a family member may not have a vehicle that would allow for the dignified transportation of a dead human body, or the means to transfer a casket or container into or out of a residence for a home funeral or vigil. For some people, the experience of grieving may make it difficult to adequately prepare and submit the necessary documentation to register a death or obtain a Coroner’s Cremation Certificate.

When contemplating family-led death care, it is important to note that institutions, like hospitals or nursing homes, may not be aware that it is legal for family members to provide funeral services for their deceased family members.  It is best that planning for family-led death care take place well in advance, including direct communication with the institutions or organizations that may be involved to ensure that there is no misunderstanding at the time of need.

Transporting the Deceased Body

You may contact a funeral establishment or a transfer service to have the deceased person transferred from the place of death, or a family member of the deceased may carry out the transfer services, if those services are provided at no charge and/or benefit.

Supplying Your Own Casket

You may buy or rent a casket or provide your own, however if a Provider considers the casket you are providing to be unsafe, inappropriate for its intended use, or it does not meet the requirements of the cemetery or crematorium, the Provider can refuse to accept the casket. If the Provider allows you to provide your own casket the Provider cannot charge you an extra fee.

Keep in mind that some caskets cannot be used for cremation, because they are made of materials that will not burn. Price lists should clearly indicate which caskets are not suitable for cremation. If you are uncertain, ask the Provider for written confirmation of suitability. The casket must also meet cemetery and crematorium by-laws. Caskets are not used during the alkaline hydrolysis process.

Green Burials

The definition of “green burials” varies. Generally, a green burial is considered to include: an unembalmed dead human body, buried in a biodegradable casket or container, without a vault or grave liner. In some cemeteries, there may be a designated section for green burials where grave markers and monuments are not used, and the ground is covered with native species of plants such as wildflowers instead of grass. Some cemeteries, will accept a body that is wrapped in a shroud. A shroud may be a flexible piece of fabric used to enclose or wrap the body for burial. Cemeteries that accept shrouded bodies for burial may also require a rigid backing board to allow for the safe lowering of the body into the grave. Cemeteries that accept or accommodate green and/or shroud burials must detail these provisions in the cemetery by-laws — consumers are encouraged to research their options.

Services a Family Can Provide

The following chart outlines the types of services usually offered by Providers. You may purchase certain supplies, such as caskets, monuments, markers and flowers from any supplier, but you should notify your Provider prior to entering into a contract.