Death can be costly for those left behind to pay funeral costs.
That’s one of the reasons a public meeting is being held in Halifax next week to discuss the feasibility of creating a funeral co-operative in the city.
Karen Miner, a co-operative sector professional with a day job at Saint Mary’s University’s business school, wants to learn more about funeral co-operatives and is hoping others share her interest.
She has invited a guest speaker from Quebec to attend a Sept. 27 meeting to help determine if the idea has merit.
Luc Charest, the cooperative development advisor from the Federation of Funeral Co-operatives of Quebec (www.fcfq.coop/en/funeral-cooperatives), has offered to help conduct a high level market feasibility study on launching a funeral co-op in Halifax.
If the response to next week’s meeting is positive, that study would likely happen, followed by a steering committee evaluation and possible move forward.
“I’m interested in learning how we might consider making this happen,” Miner said.
“Many of us avoid dealing with death. I think there’s some benefit to taking a personal responsibility for what you want to happen after you die.”
Miner said some cultural communities and those like her who are interested in more environmentally friendly possibilities would likely find more options at a more affordable price within a funeral co-op model.
While there are a handful of funeral co-operatives in Nova Scotia, including one in Musquodoboit, there aren’t any in Halifax.
Charest said he’s looking forward to visiting Halifax and sharing his knowledge of how funeral co-operatives benefit the communities they serve.
“Generally, it is more affordable ... We can provide a full range of services as any other funeral home while not pursuing profit in doing so,” Charest said. “In Quebec it has an impact on the price of all funerals. As soon as a co-op is in a community, the competitors have to lower their prices as well so this effects you positively whether or not you’re a co-op member.”
Charest said because co-op members are owners, they decide together what services are appropriate for their respective co-op.
“All it takes to make a co-op is to never start with the money. Always start with the people,” he said.
The meeting takes place Sept. 27 from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. at 1800 Argyle St. (World Trade & Convention Centre), Suite 801, Halifax (Saint Mary’s Executive and Professional Development).
Everest, a US-based funeral planning and concierge service, recently released research that found Nova Scotia had the highest funeral costs ($10,495 on average) when compared with other provinces.
In Halifax, it was even more expensive, with the average $11,152 price tag making it the highest among Canadian cities.
The average cost of a traditional funeral in Canada overall is $9,790
Everest Research also found that while 90 per cent of Canadians agree that pre-planning their funeral would significantly reduce pain and hardship on their family at the time of their death, only nine per cent have done so.