Manitoba, funeral homes square off on 'death tax'
Published Wednesday, August 14, 2013 8:24PM EDT
The Manitoba Funeral Service Association says the province may charge funeral homes a new service fee that would be passed on to the customer.
The fee could range from $10 to $40 and it would help pay for more oversight in the industry.
But some funeral home owners and managers are against any new fees.
"We never want to have to charge any more than we have to,” said Kevin Sweryd, director of the Bardal Funeral Home in Winnipeg.
However, the province is denying that a new “death tax” will be imposed on Manitoba residents.
“There is no fee for funerals in Manitoba. There is no contemplation of implementing a fee in Manitoba for any funeral,” said Consumer Affairs Minister Jim Rondeau.
The province wants to audit funeral homes to ensure they are actually spending customers’ money on funeral services. It said it’s working with the industry to figure out how those audits will be paid for, but stressed that it won’t allow any new funeral fees.
Sweryd said he doesn’t buy the province’s explanation.
“If you have a charge that you levy on a funeral that the family has no option of opting out of and it comes from the government -- a rose by any other name is still a rose,” he said.
The average cost of a traditional burial in Manitoba can cost anywhere between $7,000 and $10,000. The casket alone can cost thousands of dollars.
A cremation with a service is less expensive, costing between $3,000 and $4,500.
With a report from CTV Winnipeg’s Jeff Keele