Iqaluit considers burial fees at new cemetery

The city’s engineering department has been reviewing burial costs in other northern cities, and is considering charging fees to families burying loved ones in Iqaluit.
Iqaluit considers burial fees at new cemetery 2:14

The City of Iqaluit could make people pay to bury their loved ones at the new cemetery.

Right now, burials are covered by municipal taxes.

The city's engineering department has been reviewing how much people in other northern cities pay in burial fees. The costs range from about $100 to more than $2,600 per burial.

Richard Sparham is with the city’s engineering department.

He says a fee of $1,000 per burial would cover the yearly cost of maintaining the cemetery.

At a meeting last night, some city councillors voiced concern that a fee would be a hardship on low-income families.

"I'm wondering how one would pay for burial when they don't have an income,” said councillor Mary Wilman, adding that she thinks there are more families without an income than those with.

Councillor Simon Nattaq supports a fee that everyone could afford.

“For people on low income such as us, the fee of $100 is affordable,” he said. “It’s very easy to fundraise $100.”

Sparham agrees.

"There's always a way to recognize those who cannot afford to pay and find a way to put together the right funding stream to make that available. And for those who do have jobs and can afford to pay, ideally they should pay."

Sparham says the city will gather feedback from elders and Inuit organizations before making any decisions.

How much does it cost to get buried elsewhere?

Iqaluit is one of the few cities that offers free burial plots. On average it costs $1,313 per burial in Canada. 

Here's a breakdown of costs elsewhere in the country.

  • Whitehorse $1,947
  • Yellowknife $420
  • Churchill, Man. $105
  • Prince Albert, Sask.  $2,665
  • Prince George, B.C. $2,643
  • Fort McMurray, Alta. $1,618
  • Thunder Bay, Ont. $1,334  
  • Sault Ste Marie, Ont. $1,142
     

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