City of Iqaluit to consider covering funeral costs for residents

“If you live in Iqaluit and want to be buried in Iqaluit, my proposal is that you would be covered under an eventual city-paid funeral”

The City of Iqaluit has covered burial costs for residents since 2018. Now, with the passing of a motion during Tuesday night’s finance committee meeting, they will look at covering funeral costs as well. (Photo by Dustin Patar)

By Dustin Patar

Cost-free funerals could be an option for Iqaluit residents as soon as next year, if city councillors approve a motion that was passed last night by the finance committee.

Since the city took over the maintenance of the Apex cemetery in 2018, they have covered burial costs. The motion, introduced by Coun. Kyle Sheppard, who is chair of the committee, would see that they also cover funeral costs.

“My intent with this proposal is for burial costs for all Iqalungmiut to be covered, regardless of race or any other dividing factors,” said Sheppard.

“If you live in Iqaluit and want to be buried in Iqaluit, my proposal is that you would be covered under an eventual city-paid funeral.”

The idea of having the city cover funeral costs was last discussed in early June when the cemetery advisory committee met for the first time.

During that meeting, Amy Elgersma, the city’s chief administrative officer, said that the average cost of a funeral in Iqaluit is $4,635.

“We do know that the fees are prohibitive for many people,” she said.

Recently, the City of Iqaluit used funds from the mayor’s and council’s travel budgets to pay for the funeral of Adamie Inookee, a long-time Iqaluit resident and respected elder.

Sheppard would like to see the city’s administration negotiate with the one funeral provider in the city to lower costs and possibly source caskets at more affordable rates.

“I’ve talked to SAOs in some Kivalliq communities that are providing materials for residents in their communities at a much lower cost than we see in Iqaluit,” said Sheppard.

Part of Tuesday night’s discussions also centred around the desire to collaborate with other levels of government, Inuit organizations and other potential partners, in order to share costs and avoid funding overlaps.

Mayor Kenny Bell pointed out that the Government of Nunavut does pay for some funerals through a variety of different departments.

Sheppard clarified that he didn’t intend that the city would pick up those particular costs.

Committee members unanimously passed the motion.

“I think it’s an opportunity to do better for families and it’s also an opportunity to set and meet higher standards of service for families in what are often the most difficult times in their lives,” said Deputy Mayor Janet Brewster.

The recommendation will be heard at the next city council meeting on Oct. 13.

Share This Story

(13) Comments:

  1. Posted by Less please on

    The current undertaker does not embalm the bodies. I’m curious to know why the service costs so much. It is literally a wooden crate that the bodies are buried in. Like plywood, not something fancy. Besides the wood box, the cost also includes driving the body from the hospital to the graveyard. I know people need to be paid a salary, but maybe he doesn’t need extra staff to do this small job. City staff does the burying. What else does it cover? Am I missing something? This should be a part time job for a staff of one.
    PS: people have the right to insist that they build and use their own “coffin” or box. I suggest you do that.

    • Posted by JOHN on

      Would be nice to see the brake down of the $4635 figure , considering , no funeral home is involved

  2. Posted by Cream Mates on

    People need to let go of their egos and outdated rituals. Go for the cremation instead… Probably not available in Nunavut (right?) but all of this casket nonsense doesn’t make sense. Expensive coffins, flooding cemeteries, rotting bodies. Why ask for a professional burial when the chances of it going wrong are very high in this town. Just chuck me in the bay when I croak. Who cares. Nice things are for the living.

  3. Posted by Carver 1 on

    The charge for that wooden box that is seen for an hour and then put into the ground is……..$2500, which is the same amount Ottawa contibutes to every burial in Canada.

    We have carvers in town who could do at least as good a job for that sort of money, and the money would stay in town, rather than go straight south.

  4. Posted by Nunavutmiuta on

    We did not ask to be put in a community, we were put here and now why do we have to pay to be put back to where we originally come from, the ground. Gert the federal government to put as it was then who colonize us.

    • Posted by The World Is Wide Open to Young Man/Woman on

      Yet you continue to stay here. If you don’t like it, go somewhere that is more agreeable to you. It is a wide world out there.

  5. Posted by Mamianaq on

    The GN should consider having the BCC inmates to make the caskets like they used to do, and their labour and time would be given to the inmates fund. The news items says $4635 so why does the undertaker charge over $7000/$8000? They City employees dig the grave with the city equipment.

    • Posted by JE on

      Why are the costs so different Is what I like to know. A sibling’s funeral cost just little over $9,000 and I see these amounts that were paid. Why so different for basically the same thing? Then there’s that $2500 that is applied for from the gov’t and probably paid even though it already seems to be paid for in the package. Answers please and proper breakdowns if you don’t mind.

  6. Posted by Tax Payer on

    Nunatsiaq failed to include that the costs will go back to the tax payers of this city. How many tax payers compared to non-tax payers? How much has been spent so far since 2018 for buriel costs to date?
    Most employees have some kind of coverage therefore it should not include all individuals of Iqaluit.
    More thought has to be spelled out before a vote is to happen. We tax payers should have a vote on this issue like we had for the pool. if the costs is charged back to me, “Tax payer” no one will be able to afford a house here, we scrap by as it is.
    Mayor Kenny Bell have a community consultation before you put this out for a vote with the council. Please respect the Tax Payers as well City of Iqaluit

  7. Posted by Burial not Furneral Costs on

    The city should only provide a basic pine box and digging the grave. It is up to the family to cover the costs if they want a funeral and anything “over and above” This expense of providing $4000 per death will cause taxes to rise and will make it more costly for the housing market that Mayor Bell has a task for on…… Maybe the city should spend more time getting more land development and dealing with the water shortage so they will have a larger tax base to pay for these types of things!

    • Posted by Whut on

      A wood box and a burial is all families get for that price. Oh, and the body gets a ride from the hospital to the graveyard. Actually, that’s not true. City workers do the actual burial, so the cost covers the box and the ride. That’s it. So I’m not sure what “extras” you’re talking about. I just dealt with a funeral here. There was nothing else included in the cost. When I wanted to look after the casket myself, he protested and said he had to pay his staff.
      I’m sure the undertaker is nice, sees a lot of sad stuff and means well, but I really hope the city doesn’t agree to pay the amounts that are currently being charged. Have to someone to make caskets, keep using city workers and equipment for burials, use city pickup trucks to transport the bodies from the hospital to the cemetery. Simple, dignified, inexpensive.

  8. Posted by David on

    The community I live in has no undertaker. People do it themselves, the same way it has been done ….. forever. It’s all volunteer.

  9. Posted by Qikiqtaalummiu on

    well over so many years.the undertaker has change so much not realizing what it will cost us all. everyone played a roll and we need to get back into that horse and ride it together in proper manner.the city approved and well maintained cemetary if only the businesses with in commit and really do the job instead of asking for a hand out from the city. companys and businesses make significate amount of money each year,and i beleive right we need to have good buisneeses case such as which company does the best to deal within.then the bill can be past on to the buisneeses and cover the cost,we are trying but i we keep sustainalibility in mind and better actions
    we all will be winners of satisfaction .

Comments are closed.