The Canadian Government has traditionally assumed responsibility for the burial of members of the Canadian Armed Forces who died during battle and, later, those who died as a result of war-related injuries. In the years following the end of the Second World War and the Korean War, benefits were expanded to veterans who died without the financial means to provide for a dignified funeral and burial.
As the result of a government review in 1995, changes were made to the funeral, burial and Gravemarking program to ensure the longevity of the program and to return the program to its original mandate of assisting those veterans who were without the necessary financial resources to provide for a dignified funeral and burial. The Last Post Fund Corporation (LPF) has been mandated to deliver the program on behalf of Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC). The LPF is a non-profit organization which is closely associated with VAC and will provide, insofar as possible, an honourable funeral and burial, including a military style gravemarker to eligible ex-service persons. For further information on the LPF please view their website at www.lastpostfund.ca.
A veteran who dies while on treatment strength of Veterans Affairs Canada, or a disability pensioner who is deemed to have died either from a pension condition(s) or a condition which can be related to military service may be entitled to full funeral and burial benefits up to the maximum amounts payable under current legislation as a matter-of-right (no means test is performed on the estate of the deceased). Arrangements may also be made for funeral and burial benefits when a veteran dies without next-of-kin.
Under the program, the LPF may provide funeral and burial assistance to:
a former member of Her Majesty’s Forces or Allied Active Service Forces who was a resident in Canada at the time of enlistment or has been awarded an allowance under the War Veterans Allowance Act at any time on or before February 27, 1995, and who dies in Canada, is buried in Canada, and who served during the First World War or the Second World War;
a former member of the Canadian Active Service Force (First World War, Second World War or Korea) who dies anywhere in the world;
a former member of Canada’s peacetime armed forces who is receiving disability pension benefits from VAC at the time of death; or
a merchant navy veteran within the meaning of subsection 21.1 (3) (4) and (5) of the Pension Act who dies anywhere in the world.
If the estate of the deceased and the financial resources of any surviving spouse are not sufficient to pay the expenses of the funeral and burial (as determined by the means test described below) then assistance may be provided to cover all or part of the cost.
In determining eligibility for means-tested assistance, the following assets in the deceased’s estate will not be included in the calculation of financial status:
Assets to a value of $12,015 where the deceased left a surviving spouse
Assets to a value of $700 for each dependent child (as defined under the legislation)
The family home (including normal household furnishings) and the family automobile
Regular income cheques (payments under: Old Age Security, Guaranteed Income Supplement, War Veterans Allowance, or disability pension payments) issued to the deceased for the month of death.
Where the deceased is not survived by a spouse or dependent children, all estate assets are examined to determine financial need.
Funeral and burial expenses of the deceased, as well as other debts, are considered when determining the value of the estate. If it is determined that the estate and, if applicable, the financial resources of any surviving spouse are sufficient to provide for the funeral and burial, assistance will not be approved. If there are sufficient assets to cover a portion of the expenses, a grant in the amount of the difference, up to the maximum amounts stipulated by legislation, may be approved.
Assistance may be provided to a maximum amount for the services of one or, if required, two funeral directors. This includes a solid wood casket, or one of equal or lesser value that may be made of wood veneer, preparation of the body, the use of a room for public viewing for up to two days, the use of a hearse and one other automobile, and the provision of grave-side services. The Goods and Services Tax is reimbursed on amounts paid for these services. The legislation permits reimbursement of the “lowest cost earth burial” in the county, township or city of residence in: a cemetery plot designated for veterans, a plot in a section of a cemetery designated as a “Field of Honour”, or a plot that would ensure a dignified funeral. Burial costs may include the cost of the grave, the rental of a lowering device, the opening and closing of the grave and the costs of perpetual care.
A military style gravemarker (upright or flat granite, or in certain cases, flat bronze) conforming with the standards of Veterans Affairs Canada may be provided under conditions similar to those that govern funeral and burial assistance. This does not include assistance toward the cost of a privately purchased headstone or the cost of inscribing military service particulars on a previously erected private gravemarker.
An application for funeral and burial assistance can be made through the nearest Last Post Fund Branch in your area within one year following the death of the veteran. Applications that are received after the one-year time limit will not be considered. Telephone numbers and addresses for branches of the Last Post Fund can be found on their website: www.lastpostfund.ca
For more detailed information about the regulations, please visit the Department of Justice web sites below:
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