Cuts to Sudbury's discretionary benefits budget mean less money for funerals but better access to dental care

The City of Greater Sudbury approved a $175,000 cut in its discretionary benefits budget as part of the 2020 budget. Staff have recommended less money to be reimbursed for funerals and the frequency for denture replacement increased to six years from four.

Discretionary benefits budget tops up what province pays for services for people on social assistance

As part of its 2020 budget process, the City of Greater Sudbury approved to cut $175,000 from its discretionary benefits budget in Social Services. (Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada)

People in the City of Greater Sudbury who depend on social assistance to get by are going to see a cut in funeral rate reimbursements and denture replacements. But another change will make it easier to access dental care.

In its 2020 budget, city council voted to reduce its discretionary benefits budget  by $175,000. 

The discretionary benefits budget is used to top up what the province provides for certain services.

Staff have recommended that the city provide less money for funerals and burial services to people on social assistance. 

The current amount for funerals and burials is capped at $6,607.17. The proposed amount is $3,800. That is a decrease of $2,807.17.

In 2019 the City of Greater Sudbury spent roughly $185,000 on funerals for recipients of Ontario Works, the Ontario Disability Support Program and low-income individuals. (Google Maps)

According to a review of other municipalities' policies, Greater Sudbury has the highest reimbursement rates for funeral coverage. Average reimbursements ranged from $2,034 to $5,804.67.

Other municipalities' policies have been linked more closely to the Canada Pension Plan death benefit of $2,500 and the Ontario Works Directives Guidelines of $2,250 as benchmarks for funeral rates.

"We're not cutting funeral services right out," said councillor René Lapierre. "This is not our discussion . . .  just so everybody's on the same page that it's a reduction in money, but it's not a reduction in service," he explained.

One other recommended change involves the replacement of dentures. People will be reimbursed every six years instead of four.

Councillor Geoff McCausland said the most important recommendation was to update dental fee reimbursement from the current 2009 rates to 2020 rates. 

City staff have recommended that dental fee services be increased to 2020 rates over the next three years and stay at a two-year lag to the current year rate.

Ontario Works currently reimburses costs based on the 2009 Dental Fee Guide for services at a dentist's office.

"In terms of access to dental care, ensuring that we're covering the costs that represent the current reality is critical," said McCausland. 


With files from Angela Gemmill


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.